For a short time during the year, beautiful butterflies make for “ugly” caterpillars. In some species, these are mainly black in color. But patterns, hairs or thorns help us to correctly identify the spotted specimens.

5 caterpillars with distinctive thorns

Some species of Nymphalidae have black caterpillars that have more or less conspicuous, but always clearly recognizable thorns. This additional feature helps identify the species faster and more reliably.

Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

  • Length: 40 mm
  • Pattern: cream-colored spots of different sizes forming a row of spots on the sides (sometimes absent); brown-black head capsule
  • Spines: evenly spaced, short and black
  • Caterpillar season: from May to October
  • Fodder plants: Large nettle, vitreous herb
  • Other: The admiral ‘s caterpillars are not always black. In some distribution areas they can also be yellowish-grey or brown.

Greater Fritillary (Speyeria aglaja)

  • Length: approx. 38 Millimeters
  • Pattern: rows of red-orange dots on the sides; young caterpillars also have white markings
  • Spines: black, long and branched
  • Caterpillar season: July to August
  • Fodder plants: various types of violets

Landkärtchen (Araschnia levana)

  • Length: 25 mm
  • Pattern: fine white spots; white-yellowish, interrupted lateral and dorsal stripes; yellowish-brown ventral legs
  • Thorns: all over the body; branched
  • Caterpillar season: May to September
  • Fodder plants: nettles
  • Miscellaneous: Also known as the Maple Butterfly
Tip: The stinging nettles serve as food for various black species, for example the peacock butterfly, admiral or the small tortoiseshell. You can recognize the caterpillar of the long card by the fact that it has a pair of thorns on its head. However, these thorns are only visible from the second larval stage.

Scabious Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia)

  • Length: 30 millimeters
  • Pattern: small white dots arranged in bands; reddish-brown legs
  • Spines: black, very strongly branched
  • Caterpillar season: late April to early May
  • Fodder plants: pigeon scabious, devil’s bite, rare cardoon and gentian plants

Tagpfauenauge (Aglais io)

  • Length: approx. 42 Millimeters
  • Pattern: With many small white spots all over the body except on the head; light brown legs
  • Spines: black, medium length
  • Caterpillar season: July to August
  • Fodder plants: nettle

6 caterpillars with conspicuous hairs

You can easily recognize some black species if you pay attention to the conspicuous hairs. They come mainly from the family of the owlet moth (Erebidae). There is also a mother hen (Lasiocampidae).

Brombeerspinner (Macrothylacia rubi)

  • Length: approx. 80 Millimeters
  • Pattern: initially black with lighter segment areas; later increasingly brownish
  • Hair: only a few light grey, long hairs when young; in old age very dense red-brown-black hair
  • Caterpillar season: April to September
  • Fodder plants: numerous shrubs and herbaceous plants, e.g. B. blackberries, raspberries, sloes, clover, vetches, buckhorn, among others

Yolk-yellow lichen bear (Eilema sororcula)

  • Length: approx. 22 Millimeters
  • pattern: gray and white pattern; two reddish-brown warts on each dorsal segment; middle and rear back segment darker colored (weaker pattern)
  • Hair: Long gray hairs, each in tufts that do not grow too densely
  • Caterpillar season: July to September
  • Forage Plants: Lichens growing on deciduous trees
  • Other: also known as the spring lichen bear

Red-collar Lichen (Atolmis rubricollis)

  • Length: approx. 27 Millimeters
  • Pattern: white-yellowish marbled; six yellow-reddish warts per segment; oblique white stripes on the head capsule
  • Hair: long tufts of hair that sprout from the reddish bugs
  • Caterpillar season: August to September
  • Forage plants: lichens

Sloe brush moth (Orgyia antiqua)

  • Length: approx. 30 Millimeters
  • Pattern: young caterpillars are completely black; later conspicuous red-black pattern on the back: several red point warts on each segment
  • Hairs: mainly long tufts of white hairs growing from the warts; on different segments the hair shows variations in length, density, coloring and alignment
  • Caterpillar season: May and late July to August
  • Fodder plants: various deciduous trees and shrubs, e.g. B. blackthorn, hawthorn, rowan berries, sycamore
  • Other: In cold years there is only one generation in July. In warm years, a third generation can be found in October.

Wegerichbär (Arctia plantaginis)

  • Length: approx. 35 Millimeters
  • Pattern: the third segment is rusty red
  • Hair: very dense, white-yellowish and black hairs
  • Caterpillar season: August to May (overwintering)
  • Fodder plants: plantain, dandelion, sorrel
Note: You can also recognize these caterpillars by the fact that they will immediately flee to safety if their host plant is shaken. But thanks to their hair, they are inedible for most bird species.

White tiger moth (Spilosoma lubricipeda)

  • Length: approx. 40 Millimeters
  • Pattern: a brownish shade shimmers under the hair; on the back is a very narrow, white-yellow-reddish stripe
  • Hair: dark brown-black and very dense
  • Caterpillar season: July to September
  • Fodder plants: dandelion, nettle, plantain, meadow sorrel, broom, alfalfa, blackberries, elder and much more
  • Other: also known as the broad-winged lichen bear

6 less conspicuous caterpillar species

There are also black caterpillar species that have certain identifying features, but these cannot be described as very distinctive. Rather, it is their fine pattern that puts them on the right track.

Heidelbeer-Palpenspanner (Hydriomena furcata)

  • Length: small
  • pattern: dark gray with white side stripes; Underside lighter, brown head capsule
  • Hairiness: sparse; single thin hairs
  • Caterpillar season: May to June
  • Fodder plants: blueberries, bog berries, willow species, hazel, aspens
  • Other: spin shoot tips and leaves and rest in them

Ruddy kitty owl (Orthosia miniosa)

  • Length: small, 1-2 cm
  • Pattern: black when young, later black and yellow vertical stripes; black point warts
  • Caterpillar season: May to June
  • Fodder plants: Leaves of various trees and shrubs, with a preference for oaks
  • Other: Also known as Oakwood Spring Owl or Yellowish Red Spring Owl; is on the red list in many federal states

Roter Apollo (Parnassius apollo)

  • Length: up to 50 mm
  • Pattern: dark gray rings at the segment borders; 2-3 yellow-red spots per segment laterally; Nuchal fork between head and first segment
  • Hair: short and inconspicuous
  • Caterpillar season: April to June
  • Fodder crops: mainly sedum
  • Other: also known as the Apollo butterfly
Tip: You can also recognize the caterpillars of the Red Apollo by their behavior. They like to hang out under rocks, but they also like to bask on their host plant. In one of these two places it later pupates into a fine web.

Satellite Winter Owl (Eupsilia transversa)

  • Length: 10 to 15 millimeters when young
  • Pattern: red-brown head; fine light longitudinal line on the back; lateral line of single spots; black neck shield with yellowish longitudinal lines
  • Hair: minimal, hardly recognizable
  • Caterpillar season: May to June
  • Fodder plants: elm, lime, poplar, willow
  • Other: the color shimmers brown, black and slightly violet
Note: If you see this caterpillar feeding, you might be able to see why experts call it a murder caterpillar. It regularly eats other insects, aphids and soft-skinned larvae.

Blackberry (Callimorpha dominula)

  • Length: approx. 40 Millimeters
  • Pattern: yellow stripes interrupted on the sides and small white dots
  • Hair: short gray and black hair, sometimes more sometimes less conspicuous
  • Caterpillar season: autumn-June (overwintering)
  • Fodder plants: various herbs and shrubs such as raspberry, willow, plantain, nettle, common hazel, meadowsweet, red honeysuckle
  • Other: the color is dark gray rather than black

Weißdornspinner (Trichiura crataegi)

  • Length: up to 45 mm
  • Pattern: rust-red warts on the back; thin white-bluish side stripes, sometimes yellow spots
  • Hair: very fine
  • Caterpillar season: May to July, found in groups
  • Fodder plants: leaves of hawthorn, birch, oak, willow, hazel
  • Other: also known as the hawthorn hair spinner

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

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