Caterpillars are the larval stage of members of the order Lepidoptera. As with most common names, the application of the word is arbitrary, since the larvae of sawflies are commonly called caterpillars as well. Both lepidopteran and symphytan larvae have eruciform body shapes. Caterpillars of most species eat plant material, but not all; some eat insects, and some are even cannibalistic. Some feed on other animal products. For example, clothes moths feed on wool, and horn moths feed on the hooves and horns of dead ungulates. Caterpillars are typically voracious feeders and many of them are among the most serious of agricultural pests. In fact, many moth species are best known in their caterpillar stages because of the damage they cause to fruits and other agricultural produce, whereas the moths are obscure and do no direct harm. Conversely, various species of caterpillar are valued as sources of silk, as human or animal food, or for biological control of pest plants.

Read more in the app

Store-bought milkweed plants can expose monarch caterpillars to harmful pesticides

How a Zombifying Virus Can Manipulate Caterpillars Into Killing Themselves

How a virus turns caterpillars into zombies doomed to climb to their deaths

Even Tiny, Very Hungry Caterpillars Have a Large Impact on Carbon Emissions

Hungry caterpillars an underappreciated driver of carbon emissions

Hungry Caterpillars Can Alter Carbon Emissions on a Huge Scale

Watch caterpillars walk on water

Milkweed butterflies tear open caterpillars and drink them alive

Viruses can kill wasp larvae that grow inside infected caterpillars

Australian Cup Moth Caterpillars Produce Highly Complex Venom

Toxic hairy caterpillars invade Maine

Outbreak of Poisonous Browntail Moth Caterpillars Plagues Maine

The Neural Networks That 'Grow' Castles, Temples and Caterpillars in Minecraft