Green caterpillars are masters of camouflage. Skillfully they live in secret to devote themselves to the intake of food. At first glance, the viewer rarely sees which butterfly is hiding behind this inconspicuous appearance. This guide provides active help to reliably identify green caterpillars with a picture. Welcome to a tour of 10 domestic caterpillars from A, like evening peacock butterfly, to Z, like brimstone butterflies.

What is a caterpillar?

A caterpillar is the larva of a butterfly. Butterflies go through their feeding stage in a snake-like form. As mature moths, the insects primarily have their reproduction in mind, usually do not take any food and die within a short time.

Butterfly caterpillars consist of a snake-shaped body with up to 14 segments, divided into a head, thorax and abdomen. The head area is hardened by chitin deposits, has punctiform eyes and has pronounced mouthparts. The mouthparts play a key role, because caterpillars eat incessantly. The body increases in volume, so that the larvae molt several times. At the end of the feeding stage, a caterpillar pupates and turns into a butterfly. Scientists call this fascinating process metamorphosis. Various characteristics of a green caterpillar reveal in advance which butterfly is hiding behind the inconspicuous appearance.

Evening Peacock (Smerinthus ocellata)

The green caterpillars of a widespread moth meander on willow, poplar or apple trees. Fine, white dots covering the elongated body are conspicuous. As a further indication, yellow side stripes mark the domestic caterpillar, which run diagonally from below backwards and upwards. The back of these larvae is significantly lighter and contributes significantly to camouflage in the shadow play of the trees. Other identifying features are:

  • Body length: 70-80mm
  • special feature: red, later blue spine on abdomen
  • Hairiness: no

With a wingspan of 80 millimeters, the nocturnal moths can hardly be overlooked, even at dusk. Elegant shades of brown in an artful arrangement dominate the wings. The hind wings tease the viewer with a pink tinged base. The blue, black-framed eyespots on the hind wings are striking, to which the winged beauty of the night owes its name.

Aurorafalter (Anthocharis cardamines)

Meadow bittercress and garlic mustard are the territory of green caterpillars of the Aurora butterfly. In May, females lay their eggs on their preferred food plants, from which green caterpillars hatch within a few days. A slender, elongated body shape is characteristic of the Aurora Butterfly larvae. The blue-green upper side merges into creamy white on the side. The caterpillars are dark green on the underside. This play of colors guarantees excellent camouflage based on the principle of shadow and opposite shadow when the caterpillar sits backwards to the food plant.

  • Body length: 25-30mm
  • special feature: pupation to a brown-grey, woody belt pupa, comparable to a plant thorn
  • Hairiness: yes

The eponymous blaze of color is reserved for male Aurora butterflies. As spring gathers momentum, butterflies capture our attention with bright orange wingtips contrasting picturesquely with white body ground color. A wingspan of 35 to 45 millimeters guarantees that nature lovers will not miss the spectacle.

Lesser kingfisher (Limenitis camilla)

The wanderer in the forest is happy when a green caterpillar with tiny spikes catches his eye. The green larvae of the Lesser Kingfisher are covered with different-sized, brown, branching spines, arranged in two rows. The greatest chance of meeting the rare caterpillars is from August in the partially shaded, moist deciduous forest. Sometimes females lay isolated eggs on honeysuckle or honeysuckle bushes. The caterpillars of the moths are characterized by these characteristics:

  • Body length: 25-27 mm
  • special feature: dark brown, spined head capsule
  • Hairiness: yes

Small kingfisher parading with artistically drawn, black, brown and white wing tops, framed by a band of white spots. When the magnificent specimen closes its wings, an orangish-brown, artistically decorated underside can be seen. The wingspan extends up to 52 millimeters. The slender body also plays a colorful game with a blue-grey to white underside and a dark upper side.

Note: Small kingfishers and their green caterpillars are threatened with extinction and are under strict protection. Admiring and photographing is allowed, disturbing or even removing will be punished with high fines.

Kleiner Kohlweißling (Pieris rapae)

Dull green, slender caterpillars spread fear and terror in the vegetable garden. In fact, the larvae of the cabbage white butterfly are not welcome in the home garden because they occur in large numbers and can bare cabbage plants. But the voracious caterpillars do not disdain rapeseed and nasturtium either.

  • Body length: 20-25 mm
  • special feature: yellow stripe on the back and sides
  • Hairiness: yes

In mild climates, the white moths appear as early as March. Depending on the weather, up to four generations can occur each year, making life difficult for the vegetable gardener. Thanks to a wingspan of 40 to 50 millimeters, cabbage whites are easy to spot, so that protective nets can be used to prevent eggs from being laid in the cabbage bed in good time.

Schillerfalter (Apaturinae)

The green caterpillars of the purple butterfly like to eat the leaves of elms, birches, willows and beeches. At the top of the menu are the succulent leaves of the aspen. Its snail-like shape with a forked end on the abdomen is characteristic. If you now recognize two brownish horns that rise up when you eat, there is no longer any doubt that they are the larvae of the purple crimson butterfly.

  • Body length: 6-8 mm
  • special feature: they turn brown in winter for better camouflage
  • Hairiness: yes

Shimmering blue wing colors give the hatched purple butterfly its name. Depending on the incidence of light, the wing colors on the upper side change from purple to silvery-green, decorated with white spots. The blaze of color can be admired on a wingspan of up to 70 millimeters. Underside, a purple butterfly is colored maroon to whitish. The rare butterfly was last sighted in the Westerwald at an altitude of over 500 meters.

Chess board, checkerboard (Melanargia galathea)

The caterpillars of this butterfly species are light green to yellowish-brown in colour. A thin, dark line runs down the back. A lighter side stripe adorns the elongated body at the side and a darker side stripe towards the bottom. The abdomen ends in two tiny lobes that are reddish on the upper side.

  • Body length: 25-28 mm
  • special feature: light brown head
  • Hairiness: yes

In midsummer, the checkerboard moth populates natural meadows with busy fluttering. The widespread butterfly owes its name to a black, white and brown colouration, which is reminiscent of a checkerboard pattern. Its middle name, Damenbrett, is due to the striking drawing. The wings are yellowish-white to brownish underneath. The wingspan is an impressive 40 to 52 millimeters.

Schwalbenschwanz (Papilio machaon)

Green caterpillars with black horizontal stripes make the hearts of butterfly lovers beat faster, because one of the most beautiful native butterflies grows here. The clever larvae make clever use of the bird droppings to avoid their predators. For this purpose, in dangerous situations, the caterpillars take on the shape and form of bird excrement.

  • Body length: 40-45 mm
  • special feature: young caterpillars are initially black with orange dots
  • Hairiness: no

A finished swallowtail boasts a wingspan of 50 to 75 millimeters. This circumstance gives the butterfly considerable buoyancy, enabling it to glide elegantly through the air. Worth seeing is a yellow-black marking with a blue band, red eyespots and a delicate, black tail on the hind wings.

Segelfalter (Iphiclides podalirius)

The development into a breathtaking butterfly begins as black and gray egg caterpillars. After the first moult, the caterpillars of the swallowtail butterflies turn green and are perfectly adapted to their host plants. The caterpillars are mainly found on fruit-bearing trees such as rock cherry, hawthorn, sloe, peach or almond tree. Of course, this fact is no reason for concern for hobby gardeners, because the isolated caterpillars do not cause damage to the leaves by feeding through them. A stocky physique is characteristic of green Sweepsbill caterpillars, which hardly gives an idea of ​​the natural beauty that is hidden within. When threatened, a brownish nape prong appears between the head and the first thoracic segment to scare off predators.

  • Body length: 35-40mm
  • special feature: wafer-thin, yellow side stripes
  • Hairiness: no

From May to June, the swallowtail butterfly lives up to its name. With a wingspan of 60 to 80 millimeters and a full length of 45 millimeters, the butterfly can go without flapping its wings for a few minutes. The flying jewel can be easily distinguished from the legendary swallowtail by its distinctively longer, black hind wing processes, decorated with light yellow tips. In mild wine-growing regions, the swallowtail butterfly delights its followers with a second generation that will soar through the air from July.

Senfweißling (Leptidea mustard)

Bright green caterpillars on meadow vetchling, ground trefoil and other legumes indicate a habitat of the widespread mustard white butterfly. The larvae hatch from yellowish-white, spindle-shaped eggs, which the females lay preferably on sunny forest edges or in semi-natural house gardens. The discovery of the green caterpillars with a narrow, yellowish lateral line on the rump and abdomen is therefore an indication that the ecological balance at the site is in balance.

  • Body length: 15-20mm
  • special feature: dark, wide band on the middle of the back
  • Hairiness: no

Under ideal conditions, mustard whites fly in three generations per year, so they are not endangered. Body and wings are predominantly pure white. The first generation males have a black spot on their forewings. The wingspan is a delicate 19 to 24 millimeters.

Zitronenfalter (Gonepteryx rhamni)

If green caterpillars cavort on buckthorn (Frangula alnus) and buckthorn (Rhamnus spec.), they are usually the larvae of the brimstone butterfly. With their dull green body color, the butterfly larvae are almost invisible, especially since they like to position themselves along the leaf veins.

  • Body length: 30-33 mm
  • special feature: whitish longitudinal stripes over the legs
  • Hairiness: no

From March onwards, an adult brimstone butterfly heralds spring with lemon-yellow wing colours. The well-known butterfly from the white butterfly family was named insect of the year in 2002. Thanks to a wingspan of 50 to 55 millimeters, the pretty herald of spring can be spotted from afar.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *