16 Different Types of Caterpillars With Stripes

What is a Caterpillar?

A caterpillar is the larval stage of a moth or butterfly. It is the second part of their four-stage life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, adult). Caterpillars have long, worm-like bodies with six true legs. They can also have a variable number of stumpy false legs (called prolegs), which help them to move and cling to things.The head has six small eyes (stemmata) on each side that function in light detection but not in image formation.They have short segmented antennae and strong jaws. 

Caterpillars are known for their voracious appetites. They generally eat leaves of various types of plants, though some species can cause extensive damage to fruit trees, crops, ornamental plants, hardwood trees and shrubs.

Many of these caterpillars are most obvious when they’re fully grown and looking for a place to either pupate or settle down for the winter, though some are easily spotted on their favourite food plants. 

The most common variety of caterpillars is the Striped caterpillars. The size for every caterpillar is almost the same but they do have different features or morphology. Here is a list of most common striped Caterpillars:

  1. The Monarch Caterpillar (Danaus plexippus)
  2. The Queen Caterpillar (Danaus gilippus)
  3. Black Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes)
  4. Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae)
  5. Striped Garden Caterpillar (Trichordestra legitima)
  6. Orange-Striped Oakworm (Anisota senatoria)
  7. Giant Sphinx (Pseudosphinx tetrio)
  8. Zebra Caterpillar (Melanchra picta)
  9. Brown-Hooded Owlet (Cucullia convexipennis)
  10. White-Lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata)
  11. Azalea Caterpillar (Datana major)
  12. Angle Shades Moth (Phlogophora meticulosa)
  13. Cross-Striped Cabbage Worm (Evergestis rimosalis)
  14. American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
  15. Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
  16. Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa rubicunda)

Striped Caterpillars

Monarch Caterpillar

The monarch caterpillar is easily recognized by its vertical stripes of black, white, and yellow-green. After several molts, it attains a length of 45 mm (almost 2 inches). The caterpillar usually leaves its milkweed plant to pupate elsewhere as a pale green, golden-spotted chrysalis. The Monarch is considered a beneficial insect because its caterpillar (larva) eats the noxious milkweed plant which invades some farms.

Queen Caterpillars

Queen isomewhat similar to famous Monarch, Danaus plexippus, belonging not only to the same butterfly family but also to the same genus. It’s a little smaller than the Monarch. Queen caterpillars have less even patterning; their thicker black bands contain dabs of yellow, and thin black lines overlay white sections. Faint red may be seen where the filament meets the body. It generally has three sets of filaments, two longer pairs toward the front and a shorter pair near the rear. Commonly found in Open, sunny areas including fields, deserts, roadsides, pastures, dunes, washes, and waterways.

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Caterpillars of black swallowtail butterflies, Papilio polyxenes, are various shades of green, with narrow black bands on each body segment. The black bands are interrupted by yellow-orange dots. The caterpillars, which can reach 2″ in length, consume leaves and flowers of various plants in the carrot family (Apiaceae), including cultivated carrot, parsley, dill, and fennel. These caterpillars have a forked, glandular process behind the head that can be everted to emit a strong odor distasteful to predators.

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

The black and yellow striped caterpillar of the Cinnabar Moth is one of the most instantly recognisable caterpillars in the British Isles and Europe. The caterpillars grow up to 28 mm and feed mainly on ragwort but also groundsel and colt’s foot (ref Porters). The conspicuous caterpillars feed gregariously on the larval food plant during the day mainly between May and August. When fully grown the caterpillars leave the foodplant and pupate just beneath the surface of the soil.

Striped Garden Caterpillar

The Striped Garden caterpillar looks like a long brown worm with light stripes running the length of its body. These are one of the most commonly found garden caterpillars. Apart from the long yellowish-white stripes, you can identify this caterpillar by its globular brown head.

This caterpillar feed on wide range of woody and herbaceous plants, including asparagus, aster, bean, broomrape, cherry, clover, dogbane, goldenrod, grasses, milkweed, mustard, pea, pokeweed, raspberry, tobacco, violet, willow and yarrow. 

Also Read: Different Types of Green Caterpillars

 Orange-striped oakworm caterpillar

Anisota senatoria, the orangestriped oakworm, also known as the orange-tipped oakworm is often found on oak trees and other hardwoods in late August and September.

The adult caterpillars are 1.5 to 2.3 inches long, black in color with several narrow, yellow-orange longitudinal lines. Behind the head are a pair of stiff, blunt spines, about the thickness of the body. The remaining segments of the body have pairs of smaller spines.Some species of Orange-striped Oakworms have pink or yellow stripes.

Giant Sphinx caterpillar

The Giant Sphinx caterpillars are velvety black with yellow rings and a reddish-orange head. They can attain lengths of up to 6 inches. The black ‘horn’ located on abdominal segment 8 is approximately one inch long and is located on an elevated orange ‘button’. Thoracic legs and prolegs are orange with black spots. Newly molted caterpillars are light yellow and dark gray in alternating transverse rings; several hours after molting, the caterpillar become their typical yellow and black coloration.

Zebra caterpillar

The zebra caterpillar is a very strikingly colored caterpillar with white markings and yellow striping. Zebra caterpillar will develop feeding on the foliage of a wide variety of plants including many vegetables, flowers, some field crops, and even a few Types of trees.

The newly hatched larvae (caterpillars) are whitish, marked by dark heads and several dark spots scattered over the body. The more mature caterpillars vary in color, often displaying bright and conspicuous hues, usually with prominent black and light yellow longitudinal stripes. The underside and legs are light red-brown or yellow. The head is reddish or reddish-brown and without dark arcs or reticulations. The caterpillars are 35 to 40 mm (1.4 to 1.6 in) long when mature.

Brown-Hooded Owlet

This colorful caterpillar is also called a Calico Paint caterpillar. It has a glossy black head with yellow lines and marks on it. A deep orange line centered between pinstripe yellow lines runs down the ‘back’. The sides of the caterpillar have short yellow and white lines, with a horizontal red line along the bottom by the legs. Brown-hooded Owlet caterpillars are often found on aster and goldenrod plants, resting on stems (often head down) in plain sight during the day. First generation caterpillars feed on the leaves whereas the second generation consumes the flowers of these plants.

White-Lined Sphinx caterpillar

This caterpillars show wide variation in color. They are black with orange spots arranged in lines down the whole body. Their head’s prothoracic shield, and the anal plate, are one color, either green or orange with small black dots. An orange horn protruding from the back of the body is a distinguishing characteristic of these caterpillars. This horn, which may sometimes be yellow and have a black tip, is not a stinger, and the caterpillars are not harmful to humans.This caterpillar can also sometimes be lime green and black.

White-Lined Sphinx caterpillars are powerful eaters and are known to form massive groupings capable of damaging crops and gardens. As adults, they use both visual and olfactory perception to locate plants from which they collect nectar.

Also Read: Yellow Caterpillars Types

Azalea caterpillars

The young Azalea caterpillars are approximately 3/8 inch and feed in cluster side by side unless disturbed. They remain gregarious and soon devour the entire leaf. These young caterpillars are yellow with seven red longitudinal stripes and a black head. As the caterpillar matures it becomes highly colored. The mature caterpillar is about two inches long, and predominately black, with a red last segment and eight broken yellow (occasionally white) lengthwise stripes. The head and legs are mahogany-red.

Angle Shades Moth caterpillar

The caterpillars grow up to 45mm and may be green or mixed shades of brown, sometimes with hints of yellow. The head colour varies from green to mottled brown and a fine, pale dorsal line runs down its back. A broad pale band extends along the length of the body below the spiracular line.

Angle Shades Moth caterpillar occur in a wide range of habitats including gardens, woodlands, fens and coastal regions. It feeds on a diverse range of herbaceous plants, shrubs and deciduous trees including dock, bramble, nettle, oak and sallow. The caterpillars are readily attracted to light and can often be found nectaring at flowers such as Buddleia at night. They are commonly found by gardeners when weeding.

Cross-Striped Cabbageworm Caterpillars

The Cross-Striped Cabbageworm have black and white markings on the back of the caterpillar and a bright yellow stripe on each side.  This particular caterpillar feeds in cluster and maybe limited to a hot spot of a few plants in the garden or production area.  They feed on tender parts of the cabbage including the terminal bud and can feed into the head once heading is initiated. Cross-striped cabbage worms attack a wide range of brassica crops: cabbage, broccoli, collards, kale, turnips, bok choi, and more.

Also Read: Different Types of Black Caterpillars

 American painted lady caterpillar

An adult American painted lady caterpillar are approximately 1.4 inches in length.The body color is variable. Some larvae are primarily yellow with thin black transverse lines on the anterior and posterior margins of the segments and a narrow transverse black band in the middle of each segment. In some caterpillars, the median black band is much wider so that the larvae appear to be black with narrow yellow lines. There is a transverse row of large branched spines (scoli) with orange or red bases on each body segment, Abdominal segments two through eight typically have a conspicuous white spot on each side and there is usually a creamy white lateral line that runs most of the length of the body.

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar

In appearance, the Gulf fritillary Caterpillars are dark orange with small black spines protruding outward from the body. Fully grown caterpillar is about 1-1/2 inches long, gray to brown-black with three pairs of reddish-brown lengthwise stripes. The head and body segments bear have black, branched spines.

Despite being covered in spikes, gulf fritillary are not a stinging caterpillar, thus they cannot sting you. The spikes are soft to the touch and serve the purpose of scaring predators. The Gulf Fritillary is commonly found in open, sunny areas such as parks, woodland edges, roadsides, fields and urban gardens. It occurs throughout the southern United States, from Florida to California, and southward through Mexico.

Rosy Maple Moth Caterpillar

Also known as the greenstriped mapleworm, the caterpillar is bright neon green with faded white stripes and black dots running horizontally along its body. Its head is bulbous and brilliantly red or orange, with two thick antennae perched just above the head. Towards the rear, the caterpillar has a streak of red.Sometimes there is a pinkish-red patch on each side of the hind end (abdominal segments 7 and 8). In some stages, lengthwise stripes run down the body.

Further References

  1. https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/2014/10/21/pest-alert-cross-striped-cabbageworms/
  2. https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/angle-shades
  3. https://www.orkin.com/pests/types-of-caterpillars
  4. http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/faqs/ident.html
  5. https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/ipm1019?p=1
  6. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu
  7. https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=38566
  8. Auburn University. Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology. Greenstriped Mapleworm.