The wonderful world of insects contains some of the most bizarre-looking creatures in existence and caterpillars are not an exception. Actually, a caterpillar is a young butterfly or moth that has just hatched out of its egg, so just a step in the whole butterfly metamorphosis thing. Their look varies from scary to cute, but they always grab my attention when I find one in my garden.

Caterpillars are commonly found feeding on leaves, although some types of caterpillars are cannibals, and others prey on caterpillars of other species. They often have been called “eating machines,” and grow very quickly; for instance, a tobacco hornworm will increase its weight ten-thousand-fold in less than twenty days, before turning into a beautiful butterfly.

Butterfly caterpillars are also incredible bodybuilders. They have about 4,000 muscles (compare humans, with 629) and no skeleton to sustain their shape. They are like tiny balloons inflated by their own blood moving through contraction of the muscles in the rear segments pushing the blood forward into the front segments elongating the torso.

While most of them may look harmless, hairy caterpillars had been known to be a cause of human health problems. Sharp barbs on the end of caterpillar hairs can get lodged in the eyes, and once they enter, they can be difficult to extract, often exacerbating the problem as they migrate across the membrane. This becomes a particular problem in an indoor setting with ventilation systems.

So much for the theory, now let’s move on to our beautiful collection of these alien looking green caterpillars pictures.


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The saddleback caterpillar which has a painful sting.


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