5 Different Types of Caterpillars
There are an astounding 180,000 different species or types of caterpillars. Most of these types are not harmful but some types wreak havoc on crops and trees and can do great damage to property. People are fascinated with these little insects and although a few types may be unattractive, some are down right beautiful.
Caterpillars are the larva of either a moth or a butterfly. This means that they transform into these new insects. When they are ready to do this, they will find an undisturbed area up in a tree and build a cocoon around themselves. Caterpillars have a silk stranding that is called a spinneret. It lets this silk stranding go when it walks and uses it to swing or drop. This is similar to a spider but the caterpillar also uses this stranding as a wrap, for the outside of its cocoon.
Inside its cocoon the caterpillar is safe. It can now start to transform into a moth of butterfly. It can take anywhere from 2 to 10 months for the caterpillar to completely change its form and they can molt off skin 4 or 5 times before the pupa stage.
All caterpillars have pairs of legs connected to the thoracic segment and abdomen. They are long insects and can reach 3 inches. Some have hair and some have smoother delicate skin. This is a good way to determine the different types of caterpillars.
Before an Isabella tiger moth is a moth it is a woolly bear caterpillar. These types of caterpillars are probably the most recognizable to the public. They are bristly and hairy and have a black all over color. On the mid abdomen area it also has a reddish orange coloring. There are other species of these types of caterpillars and their colors can have different variations.
Another interesting and hairy caterpillar is the halysidota tesselaris. When it goes through its process it becomes a Pale tussock moth. These caterpillars are a yellowish brown color and are also very hairy. One distinguishing feature of this caterpillar is its long black and white hairs that come out of the head and back area. It also has these longer black and white hairs surrounding the eyes.
Hickory tussock caterpillars are exceptionally beautiful. When they go through their pupa stage they transform into caryae tiger moths. These types of caterpillars have black and white hair and the pattern resembles a mink type print. It also has unusual hair tufts that protrude around the sides of its body and longer black and white hairs that surround the head and back area.
One of the types of caterpillars that are known to do harm to crops and fields are the cut worm. Although they are referred to as a worm, they are in fact a caterpillar. When they transform, they turn into night flying moth. They are 1 to 1 ½ inches long and their colors range from yellow to green and even from gray to pink. They have smooth skin and are hairless. Cutworms are a pest in the garden because they constantly like to eat, making them a threat to all gardeners.
Wax worm or bee moth larva is another hairless caterpillar. It is white in color and has a small red head. The bee moth deposits its eggs into a weakened or abandoned bee hive. The larva starts to feed on the honey comb and eventually makes it unusable by the bees. Although these types of caterpillars usually only occupy abandoned bee hives, they will still go to the weakened ones. This causes great damage to the bee population and they are left to starve.