26 Different Types of Yellow Caterpillars

Yellow Caterpillars
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten

It’s interesting to note that out of all the many species of caterpillars, the vast majority of yellow caterpillars have spikes or hairs that give them a fuzzy appearance.

Butterfly and moth eggs hatch into caterpillars, which are the insects’ larval stages. It is simple to tell butterflies and moths from other insects since they belong to the order Lepidoptera, which is composed of more than 150,000 species.

Caterpillars can cause considerable economic damage. Most species eat on leaves and new shoots, and because of their enormous capacity for feeding, they can quickly wipe out an entire plant.

The underside of leaves is their preferred feeding ground since very young caterpillars cannot chew their food properly.

There are varieties of fuzzy-looking yellow caterpillars, and there are also varieties with smooth segmented bodies typical of many kinds of caterpillars.

There are instances in which fuzzy caterpillars of yellow color can be toxic. Even while they are not dangerous enough to kill you, they might cause skin irritation if you come into contact with them.

Caterpillars have the appearance of worms or fat slugs, although some species have more bizarre bodies with spikes.

Caterpillars have a voracious appetite, and to prepare for their transition into the pupal stage, they consume a significant amount of plant matter.

After this, the insects enter their last stage, at which point they either transform into moths or butterflies.

Yellow Caterpillars Identification

Because of their yellowish coloration, it is simple to determine the species of yellow caterpillars. Because of the color of their spiky hairs, certain fuzzy caterpillars have a yellowish hue (called setae).

Other species of yellow caterpillars have yellow and black patterns, making them striped like other types of caterpillars.

Because caterpillars cannot defend themselves, they have evolved several different defense strategies that allow them to avoid being eaten by predators.

Other animals could find bright yellow and black caterpillars distasteful due to their appearance. Some yellow caterpillars contain spiny bristles that are armed with venom and can be irritating to humans.

Camouflage is a strategy that green caterpillars employ to avoid being seen by birds and other animals.

Some fuzzy yellow caterpillars have big horns at either end of their bodies. This is something that you may notice.

It is important to remember that most hairy yellow caterpillars can produce a painful sting due to the urticating hairs on their bodies.

Let’s take a closer look at the many different kinds of caterpillars with yellow bodies or hairs so we can learn more about them.

26 Types of Yellow Caterpillars

1. White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

The distinctive appearance of the four tufts of pale yellow hairs on the hairy white-marked tussock caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma) makes it easy to recognize.

The vividly colored white-marked tussock caterpillar has yellow stripes running the length of its black body.

This caterpillar has four yellowish hair tufts that resemble toothbrushes, bright red markings, and long pencil-like hairs sticking out of either end. Along the caterpillar’s body, clumps of long setae protrude as well.

This black and yellow caterpillar reaches a length of 1.37″ (35 mm). The white-marked tussock moth’s larvae eat a range of coniferous and deciduous plants.

The maple, birch, basswood, sycamore, apple, and elm trees all have white caterpillars. Additionally, the bugs can defoliate whole trees and skeletonize leaves.

The eastern United States and Texas are both frequent locations for this hairy yellow caterpillar. Orgyia leucostigma is a native caterpillar to Texas.

It is important to know that this yellow stinging caterpillar can cause allergic skin reactions if one comes in contact with the urticating hairs.

The simple-to-identify white-marked tussock moth caterpillar has brilliant yellow stripes down its body and four thick tufts of pale yellow hairs on its back.

2. Silver-Spotted Skipper Caterpillar

The yellow-green silver-spotted skipper caterpillar (Epargyreus clarus) has two orange eyespots on either side of its brown, rounded head.

A brightly colored yellow or orange caterpillar with a reddish-brown globular head makes up the silver-spotted skipper butterfly larva.

Thin dark lines running down this yellow slug-like bug’s body and four pairs of orange prolegs are distinguishing characteristics. The vibrant yellow caterpillar grows to a length of 2″ (50 mm).

The sturdy yellow caterpillars consume various Fabaceae bean plants, black locust trees, and wisteria plants as food.

When other insects, birds, and small animals try to consume the yellowish caterpillars, they become unwell. When disturbed, they release a bitter-tasting, greenish liquid.

3. Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

The cinnabar moth caterpillar (Tyria jacobaeae) has fine hairs and yellow and black body stripes. The stunning yellow cinnabar moth larva is a caterpillar with glossy black bands dividing its segments.

This larva’s yellow and black stripes are covered in a light layer of tiny spines. Some of these caterpillars’ species can have orange and black coloring. The cinnabar caterpillar can reach a length of 1.2″ (30 mm).

The ragwort plants that the cinnabar moth caterpillar consumes contain poisonous compounds that they ingest.

Aside from cuckoos, which consume toxic and hairy caterpillars, these factors render yellow caterpillars dangerous to most birds.

The magnificent moth with pinkish-red and charcoal-black wings emerges from the pupa after the yellow and black larva.

The bright, striking colors of the striped yellow and black cinnabar moth larva make it simple to identify.

4. Grape Leaf Skeletonizer Caterpillar

The golden body of the grape leaf skeletonizer caterpillar (Harrisina Americana) has black spots and tiny, itchy hairs.

The grape leaf skeletonizer larva is a yellow caterpillar with a cigar-like form surrounded by bands of black dots or stripes.

These yellow caterpillars have a row of tufts down their sides, which get bigger as they age. The thick, yellow larvae grow to a maximum length of 0.59″ (15 mm).

The grape leaf skeletonizer caterpillar contains tufts of annoyance-causing hairs despite not being considered a harmful caterpillar. If you handle the yellow caterpillars, these setae can result in a painful skin rash that lasts several days.

The grape leaf skeletonizer caterpillar, as its name suggests, feeds on grape vines and can totally defoliate them.

It can be challenging to see the yellow and black caterpillars before you notice the foliage’s damage because they stay hidden beneath the leaves.

The fact that grape plants are the only species that the black spotted yellow caterpillars attack makes them unique.

5. Redhumped Caterpillar (Schizura concinna)

The bodies of red-humped (Schizura concinna) caterpillars are yellow with longitudinal bands of black and white markings and bands of black fleshy spines encircling their segments.

The caterpillar’s black head turns brilliant red as it ages, and the third segment of its body develops distinctive red bumps. The redhumped caterpillar grows from 25 to 38 mm long, or 1 to 1.5 inches.

Redhumbed caterpillars strip the leaves from various fruit trees, including walnut, willow, and cottonwood. In April and May, the striped, yellow caterpillars are busy. But in the middle of the summer, a second generation might emerge.

The redhumped caterpillar pupates into a brown moth with white and reddish markings on its wings.
Identification of yellow caterpillars

The yellow redhumped caterpillar has a distinctive red head, prominent red humps close to its head, black and white stripes spanning the length of its body, and black fleshy spines.

6. Large Cabbage White Caterpillar

The body of the large cabbage white caterpillar (Pieris brassicae) is yellow with black markings and thin hairs.

The giant cabbage white larva is a dark yellow caterpillar with small setae, black tubercles, and black patches all over it.

The caterpillar is born with a unique brown head and a pale yellow body. In the subsequent instars, it turns a darker yellow. Before pupating, it then changes to grayish-green and black color.

When it reaches its final growth stage, the yellow and black cabbage butterfly caterpillar can reach a length of 1.57″ (40 mm).

During this season, cabbage and other plants of the species Brassica suffer substantial damage from the yellowish-green caterpillars. Destructive pests have the potential to destroy crops in specific situations.

The lengthy, slug-like bugs, often known as cabbage worms, change into stunning white butterflies. These pretty flying insects have two brown dots on each forewing and white wings with brown borders.

7. Magpie Moth Caterpillar

Its pale yellow body, black dots, and orange side stripes make the magpie moth caterpillar easy to recognize.

The larva of the magpie moth (Abraxas grossulariata) is a pale yellow caterpillar with an orange side stripe and a band of black spots running the length of its body.

This yellow and black caterpillar has small setae on its body, white markings, a black head, and black prolegs, as seen in up-close photographs.

The long and thin magpie moth caterpillar can reach a height of 1.18″. (30 mm). This striking creamy-yellow insect glides around plant stems and foliage in a looping motion akin to a cabbage looper.

April and May are the busy months for the pale-yellow caterpillar with black spots. The blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes, as well as a variety of hawthorn, hazel, and blackthorn trees, are all hosts to the looping caterpillar.

8. White-lined Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Depending on its stage of development, the white-lined sphinx caterpillar (Hyles lineata) can have a range of colors, including a yellow body with black stripes. The vast range of colors in the white-lined sphinx moth larva makes it a distinctive caterpillar.

The species with the yellow variant is a large slug-like insect with a yellowish-green to dark yellow body and two noticeable lengthwise black stripes.

The brown patches, brown head, and prominent orange tail are all features of the yellow caterpillars. The enormous, golden, cylindrical caterpillars can get as long as 3.5″ (88 mm).

The caterpillars can be lime green in some areas and have an orange or black tail spike. The large larvae may be dark green in some locations with black and white markings.

Caterpillars with yellowish stripes eat plants, including tomato, apple tree leaves, elm, willow weed, purslane, and fuchsia.

The caterpillars pupate into stunning brown and pink hawk moths, one of the most prevalent species in North America.

9. Grass Eggar Moth Caterpillar

The grass eggar moth caterpillar’s (Lasiocampa trifolii) long, black body is coated in a fuzzy coat of orange-yellow hairs.

The grass eggar larva is a black caterpillar with a thick covering of pale-yellow to orange-brown hairs, making it appear orange-yellow.

The long, slender, hairy caterpillar comes in a variety of color schemes. Some species appear to have yellowish hairs on their sides and an orange band along their backs, while others are brilliant yellow and black.

By mid-June, the huge hairy caterpillar will be fully grown, reaching a maximum length of 2.55″ (65 mm).

The caterpillars prefer to eat the leaves of deciduous trees and shrubs like oak, beech, and willow. However, as implied by its name, it also consumes various grass vegetation.

10. African Death’s-Head Hawkmoth

The massive African death’s-head hawkmoth caterpillar (Acherontia Atropos) has a bright yellow body with gray stripes that are diagonal and black spots.

The larva of the African death’s-head hawkmoth is a huge, brilliant yellow caterpillar that resembles a tobacco hornworm.

The golden yellow caterpillar has six small legs at its head, noticeable diagonal grayish stripes along its sides, a large spot at the base of each segment, and black speckles on its back.

This yellow caterpillar’s posterior horn has small projections and is one of its distinguishing features—the horn twists and points upward on certain caterpillars.

The smooth, glossy, golden caterpillar reaches a maximum length of 6″ (150 mm). Aside from the potential harm, it can cause plants; it is safe for humans.

This enormous, sturdy yellow caterpillar lives on host plants like lantana, olive trees, hemp, potatoes, and other nightshade family members.

The large yellow larva pupates to become a gorgeous brown and yellow moth. Its name comes from a skull-like design that appears close to the moth’s head.

11. Marbled Yellow Pearl Moth Caterpillar

The body of the marbling yellow pearl moth caterpillar (Evergestis extimalis) has yellow, white, and gray with black spots.

A vividly colored yellow caterpillar with rows of black spots down its back is the larva of the marbled yellow pearl moth.

This striped caterpillar can have stripes on its body that are pale gray, white, and orange in color. The multicolored caterpillar has a rounded head and small, black spiky hairs.

The cruciferous plants of the Brassicaceae family are a favorite food source for the marbled yellow pearl caterpillars.

The striped yellow caterpillar pupates into a pretty moth with light brown and whitish-gray wings, many brown spots, and faint orange markings.

12. Tomato Moth Caterpillar

There are various types of tomato moth caterpillars (Lacanobia oleracea), including one with a pale yellow body covered in fine darker lines and patches in black and white.

Some tomato moth caterpillars resemble pale yellow slugs and have black and white spots and subtle tan stripes on their bodies.

On the other hand, the lightest types of caterpillars look golden yellow to tan. However, some species might have a striking yellow side stripe and a deep brown body.

The sprinkling of brown to black specks on the plump caterpillars, also known as the bright-line brown-eye moth, is a distinguishing trait. These small specks appear white in the darker kinds.

Caterpillars of the tomato moth can reach a length of 1.57″ (40 mm). Because they typically prey on garden weeds like dandelion, plantain, dock, and water mint, they are not considered pests.

In greenhouses, where they prefer to eat tomato plants and fruit, they can, however, become a pest.

13. Zebra Caterpillar

The reddish-brown head of the black and yellow striped zebra caterpillar (Melanchra picta) makes it easy to spot.

The lengthwise yellow and black streaks on the zebra caterpillar make it visually appealing. Solid black lines running along its side give it a striking appearance that resembles zebra stripes.

The head and underbelly of the zebra caterpillar are rounded and reddish-brown in color. The length of this remarkable caterpillar ranges from 1.4″ to 1.6″ (35 mm to 40 mm).

Due to its noticeable brilliant yellow zebra-like stripes and black bands down its back and flanks, the zebra caterpillar is simple to recognize.

14. Mullein Moth Caterpillar

You can recognize the stunning mullein moth caterpillar (Cucullia verbasci) by its body color, which is either white or pale green with black and yellow markings.

The mullein moth larva is a light gray caterpillar with a characteristic pattern of yellow and black patches. The yellow patterning is so obvious with some species that the larva appears more yellow than bluish-gray.

The black head, prolegs, front legs, and delicate setae of this colorful caterpillar are some of its other characteristics.

The mullein moth caterpillar has a slender cylindrical shape and grows to a length of 1.73″ to 1.88″ (44 – 48 mm).

15. Buff-Tip Moth Caterpillar

The buff-tip moth caterpillar’s (Phalera Bucephala) black body has fine hair with orange patches and yellow stripes.

The larva of the buff-tip moth is a thin, fuzzy bug that resembles a slug. This unique caterpillar has a black body with yellow or orange bands forming its stripes.

But there are also slender yellow lines that go lengthwise. The buff-tip caterpillar can reach a maximum length of 1.96″ (50 mm). The buff-tip caterpillar has yellow stripes that form a black rectangular with an orange V-shape.

16. American Dagger Caterpillar

The distinctive yellow-whitish hairy appearance of the American dagger caterpillar (Acronicta Americana) makes it easy to recognize.

Despite having a lovely and fuzzy appearance, the American dagger caterpillar’s body is coated in yellow urticating hairs.

You can recognize this caterpillar by its clusters of bristly yellow hairs, glossy oval-shaped black head, and long pencil-like black hairs that protrude from its body—the fuzzy golden tint of the larvae changes to a pale yellow or white as they become older.

These black-spiked yellow caterpillars have a length of around 2″ (5 cm). The caterpillar of the American dagger moth doesn’t sting like a wasp.

The skin-breaking hairs that are bothersome can result in dermatitis, hives, or welts. Therefore, you shouldn’t pick up these fuzzy yellow caterpillars to prevent becoming “stung.”

These caterpillars are found in deciduous forests and woodlands and are active from July to October. They adore devouring the leaves of elms, oaks, birches, maples, and hickories.

These spiky yellow larvae grow into brown kinds of moths as adults. These fliers have wings that can spread up to 2.6″ (6.5 cm) and have white, tan, and dark brown marks.

17. Yellow Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Another type of fluffy-looking caterpillar with long, thin, spiky hairs is the yellow wooly bear (Spilosoma virginica).

The fuzzy colors of this species, also known as the yellow woolly bear, can range from white to yellow to reddish-brown. The yellow woolly is the most prevalent variety of fuzzy yellow caterpillars in North America.

These caterpillars have small bristles and lengthy hairs. The type of these caterpillars that is black and yellow with long pencil-like hairs is the most stunning specimen. These 2″ (5 cm) long, crawling, hairy caterpillars typically forage on low-growing plants.

Although woolly bear caterpillars are not toxic, dermatitis can develop from their itchy setae. You can find them chowing down on carrot, sweet potato, and eggplant leaves. Wearing gloves is therefore advised if you’re trying to get rid of these caterpillars from your garden.

The Virginia tiger moth emerges from the metamorphosis of the yellow furry larvae. This stunning white moth has wings that can spread from 1.1 to 2 inches (3 – 5 cm).

18. Sycamore Tussock Caterpillar

The sycamore tussock caterpillar (Halysidota harrisii), a member of the tiger moth family, is a pale-yellow fuzzy caterpillar with orange and white spiky hair.

These yellow tussock caterpillars spend most of their time munching on sycamore tree leaves, as their name suggests. The tiny caterpillars only reach a length of about 1″ (3 cm).

Look for a pair of long pencils at one end and a pair of white pencils at the other to aid with caterpillar identification. Its body also has bristles that are a bright yellowish-white color.

When handled, their urticating setae can result in skin inflammation, just like most species of hairy caterpillars. According to several medical studies, sycamore tussock caterpillar exposure can cause allergic reactions.

The sycamore tussock caterpillar pupates and then transforms into a yellow moth with bluish wings. The sycamore moth has a 2″ wingspan and a plump, short hairy body (5 cm).

Encourage birds to your garden so they can eat the moths and caterpillar larvae to reduce the populations of these ravenous caterpillars.

19. Sycamore Moth Caterpillar

The small body of the sycamore moth caterpillar (Acronicta aceris) has orange and yellow bristles. The Middle East and Europe are the prominent locations for these insects. On sycamore caterpillars, the orange-yellow hairs are grouped in tufts along the length of the body.

This kind of caterpillar is simple to recognize, thanks to its vivid color. White dots run down the middle of its back and the tufts of orange/yellow hair.

A white line can occasionally connect these. Blackheads are present on the long-haired, yellow, or orange caterpillars.

The sycamore moth is distinct from the sycamore tussock moth, as can be seen by the scientific names. Tussock moths belong to the Erebidae moth family, while sycamore moths belong to the Noctuidae family.

The little, gray sycamore moths that emerge from these hairy caterpillars have wings that measure 1.5″ (4 cm) across.

20. Yellow Spotted Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Another stunning example of a yellow fuzzy caterpillar with black hair tufts is the yellow-spotted tussock caterpillar (Lophocampa maculata).

It is simple to understand how this caterpillar acquired its common name from images of it. Short, yellow hair tufts cover its body, and its back has clumps of jet-black hair. The fuzzy caterpillar now has a recognizable speckled appearance.

They have wide, thick yellow bands around their middles and thick, itchy black hair clusters at both ends. Their long, spiky white hairs also enhance their appearance.

According to University of Wisconsin researchers, deciduous woodlands are where these yellow caterpillars feast.

These caterpillars devour Poplar, oak, willow, alder, and maple leaves. They are protected from birds by their color and itchy hairs.

Yellow-spotted caterpillars are a kind of tiger moth with lengthened wings after emerging from the chrysalis. The moth has wings that are light brown in hue and have erratic darker markings.

21. Cloudless Sulfur Caterpillar

The sulfur caterpillar (Phoebis Sennae) is bright yellow with no clouds, with darker streaks between its segments.

The golden, smooth-bodied cloudless sulfur caterpillar has no hairs at all. As the larvae develop, some take on a greenish look and turn a rich yellow color.

These yellow caterpillars have dark or green bands separating some segments, as you’ll notice. If you look up close, you can also see little black spots, which are microscopic spikes.

Its body has indentations that resemble stripes. The prolegs in the middle segments are also easily visible due to the absence of hairs.

The body of the green kind of these caterpillars has a bright yellow line. The green and yellow caterpillars reach a maximum length of 1.8″ (4.5 cm).

Cloudless sulfur caterpillars stand out due to their bright yellow hue. However, they often spend their days sleeping and hiding under leaves.

They typically emerge at night to feed, when they gorge themselves on the leaves of legume and clover plants. Cloudless sulfurs pupate into enormous, gorgeous yellow butterflies.

22. Six-Spot Burnet

The golden body of the six-spot burnet caterpillar (Zygaena filipendulae) bears black patterns and tiny spikes. The six-spot burnet is another yellow caterpillar that resembles a plump slug.

Throughout its numerous growing stages, this chubby yellow caterpillar can change to light green with black markings.

The hefty caterpillar eventually develops a bright yellow body with black spots. If you look closely at the caterpillar, you will also see that its yellow body has tiny, thin hairs.

Bright yellow hues that contrast with black patches deter predators who view the caterpillar as easy prey. Birds may be in for a nasty surprise if they consume this caterpillar since it generates the potentially fatal toxin cyanide.

The three pairs of red dots on the adult moth’s black wings gave rise to its common name. Due to its diminutive size, this species of moth also has wings that are only 1.6″ (4 cm) across.

23. Tasar Silkworm Caterpillar

The golden body of the tasar silkworm caterpillar (Antheraea mylitta) is plump and has short, fine hair. India is the home of the tasar silkworm caterpillar, which is yellow in certain phases of development.

This particular kind of wild silkworm makes excellent, long-lasting silk. According to studies on the material, these caterpillars create silk that is stronger than that produced by domestic silkworms (Bombyx mori).

What kind of caterpillar is this golden species? Its body is big and chubby, and one can recognize the distinct segments. The body has short, fine white hairs and white and red spots surrounding the segments.

The chubby caterpillar transforms into a beautiful moth species after completing its transformation. The silkworm moth has orange or brown wings with a white dot resembling an eye.

24. Pale Tussock

You can recognize a majority of tussock caterpillars (Calliteara pudibunda) by their fuzzy look. The four substantial tufts of brilliant yellow hair on this tussock’s posterior segments help identify it. The Hairy pale-yellow tussock caterpillars frequently feed on willow, birch, and oak leaves.

25. Giant Peacock Moth Caterpillar

The Giant peacock caterpillar’s (Saturnia pyri) golden-yellow body has blue spots with stinging spines.

The massive moth species is one of the most remarkable crawling insects on this list of yellow caterpillars. The caterpillar and the moth are both enormous creatures.

The color of huge peacocks changes as they grow, like many caterpillars. The eggs hatch into larvae, which are a dark, nearly black color.

They eventually convert from a dark yellow hue to a brilliant green. Around the segments, you’ll find pale blue tubercles. Each tubercle bears a handful of stinging spikes that irritate the skin severely.

These enormous caterpillars reach a height of almost 5″ before becoming pupas (12 cm). They are the largest moth species in Europe when they emerge as brown moths.

Their wingspan is 6 to 8 inches (15 – 20 cm). Their big eye patterns on their dark gray to brown wings serve to fool predators.

26. Fuzzy Spotted Apatelodes

The fluffy white fuzzy spotted apatelodes caterpillar (Apatelodes torrefacta) first transforms into a bright yellow caterpillar.

The spotted apatelodes is a vividly colorful, wispy-haired yellow caterpillar. The head and tail of this brilliant yellow crawling bug have distinct black lashes that protrude from them.

According to photographs, this hair-covered caterpillar has a black underside, a black line down its back, and black chevrons running the length of its yellow body. It has vivid crimson prolegs as well.

The 1.77″ (45 mm) long yellow-spotted apatelodes are long. The fuzzy moth larvae eat the leaves of ash, oak, and maple trees. And they are simple to identify on leaves because of their bright yellow hue and hairy look.

The spotted apatelodes travel through numerous growth stages, just like many other species of caterpillars. The young, immature caterpillars are white with rosy legs and long, fine hairs. The bugs’ colors become more vivid as they grow older until they are neon yellow.

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