50 Green Caterpillars (with Pictures): Caterpillar Identification Guide

Green Caterpillars

Have you ever come across a green caterpillar in your garden and wished you could identify it? This article is a visual guide designed to help you identify 50 different types of green caterpillars. Our comprehensive green caterpillar identification chart will assist you in recognizing and distinguishing the identifying features of various green caterpillar species.

Green caterpillars are some of the most recognizable crawling insects in the wild. All types of caterpillars, including green ones, gorge on a diet of plant and tree leaves. Green caterpillars are some of the largest and fattest insects in the Lepidoptera order.

Caterpillars are larvae before they turn into moths or butterflies. Most species of green caterpillars have smooth bodies and are completely harmless. Green caterpillars aren’t poisonous, but some have spikes or spines that can give you a nasty sting. In fact, one green caterpillar species even spits acid! So, it is always better to identify the caterpillar species before picking one up.

Green Caterpillar Identification

You can identify green caterpillars by their size, specific markings, spines or spikes, and plant food they feed on.

When trying to identify types of caterpillars, it’s good to remember that they go through different stages of growth. Sometimes, baby larvae of green caterpillars can look different from mature caterpillars. The descriptions of different caterpillars in this list are of mature ones before they enter pupation.

Types of Green Caterpillars with Their Names and Pictures: An Identification Guide

Here are different green caterpillars you may find crawling on plants in your garden or in the wild.

Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar

Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata)

The Tomato Hornworm caterpillar is a bright green caterpillar with a horn and V-shaped white stripes

The tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) is a large bright green caterpillar that can grow to a length of around 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm). Its vibrant green body has white diagonal stripes along its sides and is characterized by a distinctive horn-like appendage at its rear.

You can identify the green tomato hornworm caterpillar due to its V-shaped white markings (stripes) on its green body. The caterpillar has a large head in comparison to the rest of its body. At their rear end, these green caterpillars have a protruding ‘tail’ that looks like a spike (or horn).

Tomato hornworm caterpillars are common green caterpillars that can become a significant garden pest. These crawling, bright green caterpillars get their name because they feed on tomato plants. They are completely harmless as they do not sting.

The ravenous tomato hornworm caterpillars are difficult to spot as they are well-camouflaged among the green foliage. You may find them lurking under leaves or crawling along tomato vines. While they primarily eat tomato leaves, they also munch on leaves of other plants in the nightshade family.

Tomato hornworm caterpillars are sometimes confused with a related species, the Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta). Both of these large, fat, green caterpillars can consume a substantial amount of crops.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The tomato hornworm is a large green caterpillar that can be identified by the horn at one end. It can also be recognized by the distinctive V-shaped white stripes and black or dark dots along its sides.

Tomato hornworm is mostly found in the Northern states of the US and southern Canada.

Winter Moth Caterpillar (Inchworm)

Winter Moth Caterpillar

The Winter Moth is a green caterpillar with pale white stripes along its body

The Winter Moth caterpillar (Operophtera brumata) is a small green caterpillar that only grows to about an inch long (2.5 cm). You can identify this small green caterpillar worm by the pale white stripes that run the length of its inch-long body.

This species of green caterpillar gets its name (inchworm) from the fact that they only grow to about an inch long (2.5 cm).

Although many species of inchworm are beneficial insects, the Winter Moth variety can be invasive. You can spot a Winter Moth inchworm if it only has 2 pairs of legs on its rear end. Less destructive inchworms have more legs at their rear.

These larvae feed on tree leaves such as oak, maple, beech, willow, as well as raspberry and blueberry shrubs.

Green Caterpillar Identification

This tiny slender green inchworm is fairly small compared to other caterpillars.

Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar

Genista Broom Caterpillar

The Genista Broom Moth is a caterpillar with black and white markings on its green-brown body

The Genista broom caterpillar (Uresiphita reversalis) is a green caterpillar with black and white dots. It can be identified by its black oval head with white dots. Each segment of its body also has a number of white, black, and yellowish markings. Although not classified as a furry type of caterpillar, there are wispy white spines sticking out from its body.

You can often find this brownish-green caterpillar crawling on sweet peas, honeysuckles, and various deciduous plants.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The small genista broom caterpillar measures around 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) in length. It can be identified by its green body featuring black and white dots. Its distinct characteristics include a black oval head with white dots, as well as white, black, and yellowish markings along each body segment. Additionally, wispy white spines protrude from its body, even though it is not considered a furry caterpillar.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

black swallowtail

A mature black swallowtail caterpillar has green body with black stripes and yellow dots

Mature Black Swallowtail caterpillars (Papilio polyxenes) have a lime-green body and black stripes. In their immature stage, these caterpillars look black and almost resemble bird droppings.

The best way to identify the black swallowtail caterpillars is by their colored stripes. Each segment of their body has a black stripe with yellow dots on it. The black and yellow stripes are closer together nearer the head end of the caterpillar.

As a defense mechanism, the black swallowtail caterpillar releases a foul-smelling odor and sticks out an orange ‘tongue’ from its head. This is not a true tongue, but an osmeterium that resembles a forked snake’s tongue.

After emerging from the pupa, the fat green caterpillar will have turned into a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The Black Swallowtail caterpillar, stands out with its vibrant green body featuring striking black and yellow spots. Near its head, you’ll find a pair of false eyespots.

Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Emperor Moth Caterpillar

The Emperor moth caterpillar has yellow and black dots on its large green body

The Emperor moth caterpillar (Saturnia pavonia) is one of the larger green caterpillar species. It can grow to a size of around 2.75-3.5 inches (7-9 centimeters) in length, making it relatively large compared to many other green caterpillars. However, it may not be the absolute largest among all green caterpillars.

The Emperor moth caterpillar can be identified by its black rings around the segments that feature orange and yellow spots. Looking up closely, you will notice tufts of tiny black hairs. As immature larvae, this caterpillar species is black and orange. In its later stages, it turns green.

The Emperor moth caterpillar is not a poisonous or stinging caterpillar. But, its spines are stiff and sharp and may cause some skin irritation.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The Emperor moth caterpillar is a large green caterpillar, measuring about 2.75-3.5 inches (7-9 centimeters) in length when fully grown. Its distinctive features include rows of yellow dots wrapping around each segment.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

Tiger Swallowtail

The green Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar has eye-like markings on its head

The green Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio glaucus) is an unusual green caterpillar due to its eye-like markings on its head. The caterpillar develops a solid green body color as it grows and matures. Just before pupation stage, the Tiger Swallowtail becomes dark brown.

One of the most distinctive features to help identify the green tiger swallowtail caterpillar are the eye-like markings on its head. These eye-spots are yellow or pale green dots with black centers resembling eyes. You can also tell this caterpillar apart by its white or yellowish band behind the thorax (head). The ‘eyes’ act as a defensive mechanism to frighten off predators.

Like all swallowtail caterpillars, the tiger caterpillar emits a foul stench when under threat. It may also stick out its osmeteria from behind its head to resemble an angry snake.

Green Caterpillar Identification

You may be forgiven by thinking that the tiger swallowtail caterpillar is staring at you due to its unusual eye-like markings.

White-Lined Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

White-Lined Sphinx

The White-lined Sphinx caterpillar has yellow and black markings on its bright green body with a horn on its back

The White-lined Sphinx caterpillar (Hyles lineata) is another type of ‘hornworm’ with a bright lime-green body. You will also notice black and yellow markings down its side.

This caterpillar species has a variety of colors. Some of the large fat caterpillars are black with stripes and some are green with orange or yellow spots. All these species have a horn at their tail. Although this makes the caterpillar look menacing, the horn doesn’t sting.

To identify the green white-lined sphinx caterpillar, look for rows of black spots with yellow centers on the side of each segment. Near the prolegs, you will notice a row of black and yellow dots with white specks.

Green Caterpillar Identification

To identify the White-lined Sphinx caterpillar look for the orange and black horn protruding from the back of this green caterpillar.

Copper Underwing Moth Caterpillar (Amphipyra pyramidea)

Copper Underwing

The copper underwing caterpillar has thin yellow line along the sides of its green body

The Copper Underwing caterpillar is a large, fat green caterpillar that looks like a type of hornworm. It has an almost translucent pale green body in its early stages. As it matures, the caterpillar’s segmented body becomes darker and develops a yellow stripe along its sides.

To help identify the copper underwing moth caterpillar, look for the large protruding bump at its rear. In mature caterpillars, there may be a colored horn-like tip on the end. This plump green caterpillar also has the characteristic of lifting the front part of its body when resting.

Look for four pairs of abdominal prolegs and three pairs of tiny frontal legs on this species of green caterpillar.

After emerging from the cocoon, this fat green caterpillar turns into the copper underwing moth with beautiful brown and bronze-colored wings.

Green Caterpillar Identification

A chubby-looking green caterpillar with an identifiable yellowish-white stripe along its sides, a pointed humped rear end, and a small rounded head.

Luna Moth Caterpillar

Copper Underwing

The large Luna caterpillar has green ridged body with red dots

The Luna moth caterpillar (Actias luna) is a large caterpillar with a pale green body that can grow up to 3.5 inches (9 cm) in length. The lightly colored, green, ridged body features red or orange spots, some of which bear small, fine black spines. Unlike many green varieties that have smooth bodies, the Luna caterpillar’s segments are ridges.

The green Luna moth caterpillar is more of a spiky caterpillar rather than a hairy one. Although this caterpillar doesn’t sting, the sharp spikes could prick your skin and cause irritation.

Luna moth caterpillars from the Saturniidae family of insects are in the group of large silk moths.

Just before spinning a cocoon, the Luna moth caterpillar becomes a reddish-brown color.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The Luna moth is a caterpillar a large green caterpillar that can grow up to 3.5” (9 cm) in length. It is one of the more unusual green caterpillars that turn into elegant beautiful green moths.

Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillar

Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillar

The green Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillar is commonly found on cruciferous vegetables

The Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillar (Pieris rapae) is one of the most common caterpillar species. Their light green color means that these caterpillars are difficult to spot on cabbage, kale, or broccoli leaves.

One of the features of these caterpillars is their enormous appetite. The long green larvae continually feed to increase their size. The invasive nature of these caterpillars means they can be a pest for any gardener.

The way to identify the cabbage white caterpillars is by their green slender long body. You may notice that the caterpillars are green and yellow color due to lightly colored markings. The crawling caterpillar has a slight fuzziness to its appearance.

Some cabbage white caterpillars may have a bluish-green body with tiny black dots on the segments.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Immature cabbage white larvae have black heads that gradually turn yellow and then green during each growth stage.

Hickory Horned Devil Moth Caterpillar

Hickory Horned Caterpillar

The large Hickory Horned Devil has a scary look with blue-green body and orange and black spikes

The Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar (Citheronia regalis) is a giant bluish-green caterpillar with long spiky red horns with black tips. Each segment of the turquoise-green body has small black spikes. Either end of the caterpillar has red tips.

It is appropriately called a horned caterpillar and it is one of the scariest caterpillars you will find.

Despite its menacing look, this large species is one of the most placid in the Saturniidae family. The evil-looking caterpillar is harmless and it doesn’t sting or bite.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar is one of the largest green caterpillars that can grow up to 6” (15 cm) long. This caterpillar can be as large as the palm of your hand.

Rustic Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Rustic Sphinx

The Rustic Sphinx caterpillar is a green caterpillar that has a large horn and white stripes on its body

The Rustic Sphinx caterpillar (Manduca rustica) is a large green caterpillar, growing to lengths of up to 3.5 to 4 inches (9 to 10 centimeters). This horned caterpillar can be identified by its lime green body, which features distinctive diagonal white and maroon stripes on its sides. It has a large, spiky horn at the rear, which is non-stinging.

Some species of this large fat caterpillar have a reddish coloring on the top. Diagonal white strips divide this color from the green color on the lower segments. Their horny tails can be yellow with red freckling.

The name of these ‘sphinx’ caterpillars comes from the way they like to raise the front of their body up like the Sphinx in Egypt.

The Rustic Sphinx caterpillar is generally found in states such as Texas, Florida, South Carolina, and Mississippi.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The Rustic Sphinx caterpillar (Manduca rustica) is a large bulky looking green species of caterpillar with diagonal white stripes and large horn.

European Puss Moth Caterpillar

European Puss

The European Puss caterpillar can be easily identified by its unique look

The European Puss caterpillar (Cerura vinula) is a fat lime-green caterpillar. This unusual looking large caterpillar has a triangular head at one end and long spiked tails at the other.

When under threat, the caterpillar extends red menacing lashes to ward off other insects. Also, the head end of the caterpillar has patterning that resembles a scary face. This looks like a mouth wide open bearing gnashing teeth.

This European Puss is one of the more dangerous caterpillars on this list. If you happen to identify one, you should stay clear of it. When annoyed, the European Puss caterpillar can spit poisonous acid. You can tell when the caterpillar is agitated because it will raise up its head and whip its long tails from side to side.

This unique green ‘pus’ caterpillar should not be confused with the American Puss caterpillar that is a hairy variety.

Green Caterpillar Identification

A big plump green caterpillar that can grow up to 3” (8 cm) and act aggressively.

Cecropia Moth Caterpillar

Hyalophora cecropia

The Cecropia moth caterpillar is a giant green caterpillar with yellow and blue nodules

The Cecropia moth caterpillar (Hyalophora cecropia) is one of the largest and unique-looking green caterpillars you will come across. The larvae start off as a yellowish-green color before becoming bluish-green in later stages.

The large segments on the Cecropia moth caterpillar give it a ridged appearance. One of the unique identifying features of the green Cecropia moth caterpillar are the yellow, blue, or orange tubercles that grow on the body. Each of these colorful bumps sprouts small black spikes. There are even blue tubercles on the prolegs on its middle section.

Although this may be one of the most bizarre-looking caterpillars you will see, they turn into some of the most beautiful moths. In fact, the Cecropia moth that comes from this caterpillar is one of the largest moths in North America.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The Cecropia moth caterpillar is a giant green caterpillar, and it can grow up to a length of 4.5” (10 cm).

Hackberry Emperor Caterpillar (Asterocampa celtis)

Hackberry Emperor Caterpillar (Asterocampa celtis)

The hackberry emperor caterpillar is pale green with yellowish stripe along its body and a split tail at its rear

The Hackberry Emperor caterpillar is a light green caterpillar with two thin yellowish stripes running the length of its body. To help identify the hackberry emperor caterpillar, look for numerous tiny yellow raised dots covering the body, a dark green head with two small horns, and two sharp tails at its rear.

Hackberry emperor larvae grow up to 1.5” (4 cm) long. Their light green color and tiny yellowish bumps covering the body can make them difficult to spot on hackberry trees.

As its name suggests, you will often find hackberry emperor caterpillars on hackberry trees. In late fall, green hackberry emperor caterpillars turn brown and overwinter inside curled hackberry tree leaves. The crawling worm-like insects emerge in spring and start to feed on hackberry leaves and leaf buds.

After emerging from the pupa, the hackberry emperor caterpillar is a stunning brown butterfly with white, brown, and black markings on its wings.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The plump green caterpillar with its darker head is covered in pale yellow raised bumps, and there are two dotted lines from head to the rear and two spiked tails.

Green Cloverworm (Hypena scabra)

Green Cloverworm (Hypena scabra)

The green cloverworm caterpillar can be identified by its 3 pairs of abdominal prolegs and whitish stripe along the side of its body

The Green Cloverworm caterpillar is identified by its yellowish-green head, thin yellow lines wrapping around the body, and pale greenish-white stripe along its sides. Another way to recognize this green caterpillar is by its three pairs of abdominal prolegs and a pair at its rear.

Green Cloverworms have the characteristic of squirming when disturbed. This unique behavior looks like they jump and then flop.

Also called black snout, green cloverworm caterpillars measure between 1” and 1.2” (2.5 – 3 cm) long. They are destructive caterpillars that feed on soybeans and other legumes.

After the pupal stage, green clover worms turn into a dark brown moth with triangular wings.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Green caterpillars with segmented bodies separated by thin yellow lines. Look for the identifiable white stripe running along each side.

Diamondback Moth Caterpillar (Plutella xylostella)

Diamondback Moth (Plutella xylostella)

The small pale green diamondback caterpillar has V-shaped rear, darker head and tiny black hairs on its body

The Diamondback Moth caterpillar is a small, pale green caterpillar with black spiny hairs on its body, small white dots, a brown to black head, and a tapering rear. An identifying feature of the diamondback moth caterpillar is the five pairs of prolegs, one of which forms a distinctive V shape at its rear.

Also called cabbage moth caterpillar, the tiny green wriggling larvae measure up to 0.4” (1 cm). This caterpillar changes color as it matures. The diamondback caterpillar emerges almost colorless from the egg and gradually develops a green body and black head. As the caterpillar grows, its head becomes green or brown.

In its first instar, the diamondback moth is a type of leaf miner that lives inside leaves, feeding on leaf tissue. After emerging from leaves, the tiny green caterpillars munch through the underside of leaves. This feeding habit means that small green diamondback moth caterpillar damage on cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflowers can go undetected for some time.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Look for the short black hairs emerging from whitish patches, V-shaped rear, and dark head on this tiny green caterpillar.

Io Moth Caterpillar (Automeris io)

automeris io

The Io moth caterpillar has green spikes that feel very unpleasant if their venom penetrates your skin

Io moth caterpillars emerge from the eggs a rusty-brown color with thin black stinging hairs. They gradually turn green and develop the characteristic stinging needle-like green tufts that look like pine needles.

You can identify the Io moth caterpillar by its red and white stripes running the length of its side. Green spikes stick out from all parts of its body. There are even tiny spikes on the 4 pairs of prolegs on its central segments.

Io moth caterpillars grow up to 2.3” (6 cm) long.

The spines of io moth caterpillar contain toxic substances that cause a lot of skin irritation. The urticating spines can give you a nasty “bite” if the venom gets into your skin. Even the slightest touch of these stinging venomous caterpillars can cause a lot of pain that lasts an hour or so.

After metamorphosis, the fat, fuzzy green Io moth caterpillars turn into spectacular orange or yellow moths with huge eye markings on the wings.

Green Caterpillar Identification

To identify the Io moth caterpillar look for the recognizable tufts of stinging green spines covering the fat, lime-green body with red and white stripes running along its sides.

Rough Prominent Moth (Nadata gibbosa)

Rough Prominent Moth (Nadata gibbosa)

The plump rough prominent caterpillar has yellow specks and lines along its green segmented body

The Rough Prominent moth caterpillar is a pale green to turquoise, plump caterpillar with a large, rounded head and small black, eye-like markings. The identifying characteristics of this caterpillar include numerous yellowish speckles, a red circular dot on the side of each segment, and pale-yellow stripes on the sides.

The pale-green, yellow-striped caterpillar has a ball-like translucent green head, and the caterpillar matures at 0.7” (1.7 cm) long.

The rough prominent caterpillar also has names such as white-dotted prominent and green oak caterpillar.

You will often find the green rough prominent caterpillar munching on oak leaves, as well as foliage on birch, alder, maple, cherry, and willow trees.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Identify the rough prominent caterpillar by its smooth, fat, green segmented body with yellow speckled markings. It has a yellowish mid-dorsal line, and a line of red dots near the abdomen.

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly (Phoebis sennae)

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly (Phoebis sennae)

The cloudless sulphur caterpillar has a yellow line on the side of its green body with tiny blue-black dots

The Cloudless Sulphur caterpillar is a green caterpillar with yellow stripes and blue or black dots. The bluish-black spots are in rows across the center of the segments. There are also tiny black setae—groups of bristle-like hairs on its body. Some species of cloudless sulphur caterpillar are a yellowish-green color.

An unusual feature of Phoebis sennae is that the caterpillar’s color depends on what it feeds on. Green cloudless sulphur caterpillars get their color from feeding on green foliage. However, the yellow type of caterpillar occurs when the fat caterpillars feed on yellow petals.

Cloudless sulphur caterpillars grow between 1.6” and 1.8” (4 – 4.5 cm) long.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Identifying characteristics of cloudless sulphur caterpillar are its green body, and a lateral yellow stripe on each side. It has rows of blue and black dots, and tiny bristles on its abdomen and feet.

Crowned Slug caterpillar (Isa textula)

Crowned Slug Caterpillar Isa textula

The crowned slug caterpillar has a distinctive look with stinging spines around the sides of its green flat body

The Crowned Slug caterpillar is one of the most unusual pale-green caterpillars. The crawling insect is easy to identify by its flattened oval body which has stinging hairs sticking out from its sides. Other identifying marks are the two lines on its back, horns, and two spiked tails.

This slug caterpillar looks more like a fuzzy spherical leaf. Even though it looks flat, it has a ridged back with two pale yellow lines. There are a pair of horns on one end and plumes of stinging green spins on the other. The stinging green, yellow, or red spiny protrusions radiate around its body make it easy to identify.

The crowned slug caterpillar grows up to 0.6” (1.5 cm) long. Although the crowned slug caterpillar looks stunning, it can give you a nasty sting if you touch it.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Identify the crowned slug caterpillar by its oval pastel green body and plumes of stinging hairs around its side. It also has a pair of orange-red horns, and two yellow stripes on its back.

Oak Slug caterpillar (Euclea delphinii)

Oak slug caterpillar (Euclea delphinii)

The oak slug caterpillar has an unusual colorful look with venomous spikes all over its body and 2 lines of orange stripes

The oak slug caterpillar is a green oval caterpillar with plumes of stinging spikes, orange lines, and black and white ring-like markings. It’s easy to identify this slug caterpillar by the orange or yellow fuzzy spikes pointing out its back, ends, and sides.

The ovoid-shaped lime green body is divided into three lateral sections by two rows of orange spines. Look for recognizable circular patterns with black and white rings on its green back.

The bright colors of the oak slug caterpillar are warning signs to stay away. You will often find oak slug caterpillars in deciduous woodlands and forests. After the pupal stage, the spiky caterpillar emerges as a small brown hairy moth.

The spiny oak slug caterpillar grows up to 0.8” (2 cm) long.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The spiny oak slug caterpillar has a green elongated oval body, two orange stripes on its back, black circular patterns, and plumes of venomous spines.

Fall Webworm (Hyphantria cunea)

Fall Webworm (Hyphantria cunea)

The fall webworm is a type of a small yellowish-green hairy caterpillar with long spikes

The fall webworm caterpillar is a yellowish-green caterpillar with tufts of long, thin hair-like spines. The furry caterpillar has rows of yellow spines sticking out from all parts of its body. You will also notice rows of round black dots along the back.

Fall webworms can come in a wide range of colors. Some of these small fuzzy caterpillars can be pale yellow with black dots, and others can be dark gray with light markings.

These thin fuzzy fall webworm caterpillars measure up to 1” (2.5 cm) long. These hairy caterpillars love to munch their way through leaves on walnut, cherry, crabapple, and other deciduous trees.

The name webworm comes from the unusual habit of these caterpillars to spin large tent-like structures around host plants.

The color of fall webworm caterpillars comes from their habitat. Green-bodied fall webworms tend to be found in warmer climates. In contrast, the dark furry caterpillars live in colder, northern climates. Therefore, noticing web-like tents on branch tips is a way to recognize webworm infestations on trees.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The fall webworm is identified by extremely long yellow or white hairs growing from orange-red tubercles all over its body.

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio Troilus)

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio Troilus)

The spicebush swallowtail caterpillar has markings that look like fake eyes on its head

The Spicebush Swallowtail is a fat green to yellow caterpillar with bands of bluish-green dots around its segments. Its head has eye-like black and white markings, giving the spicebush swallowtail caterpillar the appearance of a comical snake.

Green spicebush swallowtail caterpillars grow between 2.5” and 3.8” (6 – 9.5 cm) long. They have a relatively plump body. During the early stages of growth, the caterpillars are brown with white markings that look like bird droppings. As they mature, they become pale green and develop burgundy or brown undersides.

One of the fascinating characteristics of the spicebush swallowtail is the false eyespots on its head that offer protection from predators. These have a black pupil on a yellowish oval circle and a white “reflection” spot.

If the spicebush swallowtail caterpillar feels threatened, it will rear up and emit a foul-smelling odor to ward off birds and other insects. It may be difficult to spot this caterpillar as it usually feeds at night and hides during the day.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Identify the Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar by its two false eyespots on its head, pale green body, and small blue and black dots in a transverse band.

Tobacco Hornworm Caterpillar (Manduca sexta)

Tobacco Hornworm Caterpillar (Manduca sexta)

The large green tobacco hornworm caterpillar has seven white diagonal lines with a black dots

The Tobacco Hornworm caterpillar is a large, fat green caterpillar with diagonal white stripes with black dots. It has a row of black and yellow dots along the side, and a horn at its rear that can be green, orange or brown. Although this caterpillar is harmless to humans, it can damage crops like tomato plants and other plants in the nightshade family.

Tobacco hornworms and tomato hornworm caterpillars look alike. However, the plump tobacco hornworm is slightly smaller, measuring up to 2.7” (7 cm).

To tell the difference between the two types of hornworms, look at the markings. For example, tobacco hornworms have seven white diagonal lines with a black border. But tomato hornworms have eight V-shaped borderless markings and a black horn.

Green Caterpillar Identification

You can spot a tobacco hornworm caterpillar by its diagonal white and black striped markings, tiny black dots with a white ring, and orange or brownish-red horn-like protrusion on its tail.

Cross-Striped Cabbage Worm (Evergestis rimosalis)

Cross-Striped Cabbage Worm (Evergestis rimosalis)

The cross-striped cabbage worm has green body, white marks on the back and yellow stripe on each side

The Cross-Striped Cabbage worm is a striped, green caterpillar with a yellow band and dark green dots. It has zebra-like markings, fine hairs, and a round brown head. The caterpillar is one of the most colorful of the green caterpillars. As the caterpillar matures, the green coloring darkens to deep blue or black.

Although called a worm, the cross-striped cabbage worm is a caterpillar in the insect order Lepidoptera. The stunning fat green caterpillars turn into tan-colored moths.

Cross-striped cabbage worms grow between 0.4” and 0.6” (1 – 1.5 cm) long.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Identify the green cross-striped cabbage caterpillars by their distinctive yellow line along their sides. They also have black dots on the segments, and black and white markings on the greenish-white back.

Rosy Maple caterpillar (Dryocampa rubicunda)

Rosy Maple caterpillar (Dryocampa rubicunda)

The light green striped rosy maple caterpillar has black dots and 2 black horns poking out from its head

The Rosy Maple caterpillar is a striped, bright green caterpillar with a brown head, bands of black dots, and a pair of black antennae. As the fat green caterpillar matures, it changes in appearance. The rosy maple caterpillar develops black spines, the bulbous brown head darkens, and white, green, or black stripes develop along its length.

Rosy maple caterpillars grow up to 2” (5 cm) long and can have a plump green, striped body when mature. The caterpillars also go by the name green-striped mapleworm.

After the pupal stage, the bright green caterpillar emerges from the cocoon as one of the most colorful furry moths. The rosy maple moth has bright pink and white fuzzy wings with a yellow head and pink antennae.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Identification marks of the rosy maple caterpillar are a bright green body, darker longitudinal stripes, two black horns, a black abdomen, and red or pink streaks at its rear.

Dragon-Headed Caterpillar (Polyura athamas)

Dragon-Headed Caterpillar (Polyura athamas)

The green dragon-headed caterpillar has 4 horns on its head and white markings (stripes) on its sides

The Dragon-Headed caterpillar is a long, dark-green slug-like caterpillar with a large head, four scary-looking horns, whitish-yellow lateral stripes, and small white spots. Despite its menacing appearance, the dragon-headed caterpillar is harmless. The tropical caterpillar tends to feed on leguminous plants.

Looking at pictures of the green dragon-headed caterpillar, it’s easy to see how Polyura athamas gets its common name. The green caterpillar head looks like a mythical dragon with its two long central spiky “horns” and two shorter peripheral stumpy horns emerging from its flat head.

You’ll also notice that the dragon-headed caterpillar has four pairs of prolegs, each with a white marking. There is also a line of white markings along the base of each segment. Looking at the caterpillar from above, you’ll notice its markings are in the shape of a V.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The main identifying characteristic of the dragon-headed caterpillar is its four impressive long horns. Additionally, prominent diagonal white stripes and white markings along the side help to identify this green caterpillar.

Angle Shades Moth Caterpillar

Angle Shades

The body of the Angle Shades Moth Caterpillar can be green or light brown

The Angle Shades caterpillars (Phlogophora meticulosa) in the Noctuidae family are small larvae in comparison to some huge species. These caterpillars can be dull green with whitish dorsal lines. Others are green or brown with red spots along their sides.

Green Caterpillar Identification

This caterpillar has a green body with a pale dotted line along its side and narrow yellowish bands separating its segments. Sometimes the caterpillars can be pinkish brown.

Cabbage Looper Caterpillars

Cabbage Looper Caterpillars

The green cabbage looper caterpillar prefers to eat cruciferous vegetables

Cabbage looper caterpillars (Trichoplusia ni) get their name from the way they crawl, making large arching actions. These cabbage worms are slightly hairy due to fine bristles that grow on their bodies. As they mature, they take on a green color and grow up to 1.5” (4 cm). Also, their feeding habits increase until they are eating 3 times their body weight daily.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The cabbage looper caterpillar is identified by its pale, lime green color, white stripe along its side, and sparsely covered by fine hairs. The green caterpillar also has a distinctive looping habit when it moves.

Imperial Moth Caterpillar

Imperial moth caterpillar

The large Imperial moth caterpillar can greatly vary in color. Most mature ones are brown, maroon or green

There are a number of subspecies in the Imperial moth caterpillar species (Eacles imperialis). Imperial moth caterpillars aren’t a poisonous type of caterpillar but they can do a lot of damage to crops. Some species of these large caterpillars are green and yellow and others are brown and burgundy. The fat green ones can grow to a huge size of 5.5” (10 cm).

Green Caterpillar Identification

The imperial moth caterpillar is a fat green larva, identified by a row of yellow dots along its side and yellowish spiny horns at its head and tail end.

Long-Tailed Skipper Caterpillar (Urbanus proteus)

Urbanus proteus

The long-tailed skipper caterpillar has a green body with yellow dots and lines and dark rounded head

The long-tailed skipper caterpillar is a large green caterpillar with a distinctive rounded brownish-black head and is covered in yellowish dots. Other identifying marks of this cigar-shaped larva are thin yellow lines along its back, two orange markings at its tail end, and orange prolegs.

This slug-like caterpillar is common in Florida, feeding on legumes and ornamental plants in the bean family. Its unusual habit of rolling leaves around itself earned it the common name bean leafroller.

Green Caterpillar Identification

Identifying features of the long-tailed skipper caterpillar are its green body with bands of yellowish dots and yellow lines running its length. However, its most distinguishing feature is its ball-like dark head.

Forester Moth Caterpillar (Zygaenidae)

Yellow Florida Forester Moth Caterpillar (Zygaenidae)

The forester moth caterpillar is identified by its yellowish-green body with rows of black dots

The forester moth caterpillar has a distinctive yellowish-green color. It is identified by two rows of black spots running along its back and spiky tufts. The plump, stout caterpillar has a segmented body and measures around 4.7” (12.5 cm) before it pupates. Its bright chartreuse color helps to ward off predators.

Forester moth caterpillars feed on herbaceous plants in the warm subtropical regions in the southern United States. The brightly-colored caterpillar turns into a spectacular black and white moth after pupation and is sometimes called a smoky moth.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The yellowish-green forester moth caterpillar is a slug-like caterpillar with black dots and spiny tufts of hairs on its body. The larva has a distinctive flattened body.

Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar (Antheraea polyphemus)

Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus)

The polyphemus moth caterpillar has red dots along his lime-green body

The polyphemus moth caterpillar is a lime-green colored caterpillar with distinct bands of bright red dots traversing its body. Each of the neon-red dots has a long setae, giving the green caterpillar a slightly hairy appearance. The stout caterpillars measure 3” to 4” (7.5 – 10 cm) long.

The polyphemus moth caterpillar looks different through its various instars. The young caterpillars have black and white stripes around their abdomen and are covered in orange tubercles sprouting short black hairs. When the caterpillar pupates, it’s a large, dark green larva, sometimes with yellowish lines on its sides.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The polyphemus moth caterpillar is identified by reddish bumps around its lime-green to dark green body.

Common Pine Sawfly (Diprion pini)

Common Pine Sawfly (Diprion pini)

The common pine sawfly larva has a pale green body with black line and black spots

The common pine sawfly larva is a pale green bug with a black line along its back and a band of black spots along its sides. The easily recognizable larva develops a rounded orange head with black dots as it matures.

The small caterpillar-like larva grows up to 0.4” (1 cm) long. In its larval stage, Diprion pini can do tremendous damage to pine trees.

It’s worth noting that this sawfly larva isn’t a caterpillar from the moth or butterfly order Lepidoptera. Instead, after pupation, it turns into a brown-winged insect called the common pine sawfly.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The larva of the common pine sawfly is an easily identifiable caterpillar-like bug with a pale green body and black bands running the length of its body.

Eumorpha Sphinx Caterpillar (Eumorpha fasciatus)

Eumorpha fasciatus

The large eumorpha sphinx caterpillar is green with yellow diagonal lines and black dots but can have color variations

The eumorpha sphinx caterpillar is an unusual green caterpillar because it has many color variations. The large larva has a row of black dots along its side, diagonal yellowish-white stripes, and a spiked tail. However, the caterpillar can also be yellowish-green with red bands and yellow and white stripes.

Also called the banded sphinx caterpillar, you’ll often find the larvae feeding on plants in the Oenothera (evening primrose) or Ludwigia species.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The eumorpha sphinx caterpillar is challenging to identify because of its color variations. For example, the green caterpillar can have yellow, black, red, white, or orange stripes. In addition, some instars of the caterpillar resemble the tobacco hornworm.

Honey Locust Moth Caterpillar (Syssphinx bicolor)

honey locust moth (Syssphinx bicolor)

The honey locust caterpillar is identified by its green body with white dots, red and white line along its sides and two red horns

The honey locust moth larva is a green caterpillar with white speckled tubercles. The green caterpillar is identified by its two pairs of reddish horns, whitish spiny hairs, and a white and red stripe along its sides. Its unusually looking head has yellow bands on its face.

The green honey locust caterpillar has a stout body that grows 1.5” (3.8 cm) long. You’ll find the leaf-destroying larvae feeding on honey locust and Kentucky coffee trees.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The honey locust moth caterpillar has a dark green abdomen, a pair of fleshy red horns at either end, a white and red abdominal band, and is covered in white speckles.

Northern Pearly-Eye Caterpillar (Enodia anthedon)

Enodia anthedon

The pale green northern pearly-eye caterpillar is covered with tiny yellowish dots and has a pale pink horns

The northern pearly-eye butterfly larva is a pale green caterpillar with pinkish horns, rows of brightly-colored yellow dots, and covered in fine setae. This green larva has an identifiable pointed tail end and an oval head. This yellowish-green caterpillar grows 1.77” (4.5 cm).

The pale green caterpillars are found feeding on various types of grass. After pupation, the caterpillar turns into an attractive brown butterfly with identifiable brown eyespots on its wings.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The northern pearly-eye caterpillar is an easily identifiable caterpillar with pale reddish-pink horns and a pointed rear. It is covered in tiny yellowish speckles and fine hairs.

Orange-Barred Sulphur Caterpillar (Phoebis philea)

Phoebis philea

The pale green and black striped orange-barred sulphur caterpillar has small black bumps along its body

The orange-barred sulphur caterpillar is a pale yellow-green caterpillar. It has two black longitudinal stripes along its back and it is covered in small fleshy bumps. This black and green striped caterpillar is typically found munching on foliage on clover and legume plants.

The color of the orange-barred sulphur caterpillar depends on the type of plants it consumes. For example, eating dark green leaves makes the caterpillar a darker color. However, if it eats yellowish leaves, the caterpillar will be a pale green to yellow color.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The caterpillar of the orange-barred sulphur butterfly is a yellowish-green larva with broad black bands running from head to tail. The striped caterpillar is also covered in stumpy fleshy black spines.

Silver-Spotted Skipper Caterpillar (Epargyreus clarus)

Epargyreus clarus

The silver-spotted skipper is a yellow-green caterpillar with brown rounded head and two orange eyespots

The silver-spotted skipper caterpillar is an unusual yellowish-green caterpillar with a dark brown ball-like head and thin lateral stripes on its abdomen. Other identifying features of the green caterpillar are its orange eyespots, three pairs of red forelegs, and eight orange prolegs. It also has a reddish-brown band behind its head.

This striped caterpillar measures 2” (5 cm) long. The silver-spotted skipper caterpillar feeds on leaves of shrubs, herbs, vines, and plants in the pea family Fabaceae.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The silver-spotted skipper larva is a plump, slug-like yellowish-green caterpillar with thin traversing stripes, orange legs, and a reddish-brown head.

Copper Underwing Moth Caterpillar (Amphipyra pyramidoides)

Copper Underwing Moth Caterpillar (Amphipyra pyramidoides)

The yellow dotted green copper underwing caterpillar has yellow-white line along its sides and humped tail part

The copper underwing moth larva is a green caterpillar with an identifiable yellow and white band along its sides. In addition, on the colorful band are several blue dots with a white rim. The caterpillar’s green abdomen is also covered in yellow dots and patterns.

The copper underwing green caterpillar measures 1.77” (4.5 cm) long. The larva is also identified by its conspicuous humped tail part and rounded green head. The caterpillar is active in spring, feeding on fruit trees, hawthorn, maple, oak, and other deciduous trees.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The copper underwing moth caterpillar is a plump caterpillar with a green body covered in yellow dots and a white and yellow line running the length of its sides.

Oleander Hawk Moth Caterpillar (Daphnis nerii)

Oleander hawk moth (Daphnis nerii)

The large green oleander hawk caterpillar has pale orange horn at its tail end and blue eyespots

The oleander hawk moth caterpillar is a relatively large caterpillar with a green body, yellow fleshy horn at its rear, and two large blue and white eyespots. The fascinating caterpillar also has a white and pale blue stripe along its side decorated with white dots.

The oleander hawk moth caterpillar measures 3” to 3.3” (7.5 – 8.5 cm) long. Just before pupating, the caterpillar turns a dark charcoal color with orange patches at either end.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The oleander hawk moth caterpillar is identified as a large, horned caterpillar that is a vibrant green color with a band of blue and white markings along its side.

Box Tree Caterpillar (Cydalima perspectalis)

Box Tree Caterpillar (Cydalima perspectalis)

The box tree caterpillar has a green, black and yellow striped body with black spots and fine hairs

The box tree larva is a black, yellow, and green striped caterpillar. The identifying features of this green caterpillar are its round black head with a white “V” pattern, green, yellow, and black bands along its abdomen, and black dots on its back. In addition, the caterpillar has fine white spines.

The green and black box tree caterpillar grows 1.5” (4 cm) long. As its common name suggests, the striped, green caterpillar feeds on plants in the Buxus species. In some cases, the green caterpillars can completely defoliate boxwood shrubs.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The box tree moth caterpillar is identified by its cylindrical shape, black head, and green striped body. There are also black dots on its abdomen, each producing fine setae.

Promethea Silkmoth (Callosamia promethea)

Promethea Silkmoth (Callosamia promethea)

The pale green promethea silkmoth caterpillar is identified by four red horns at its head and yellow horn at the tail

The promethea silkmoth caterpillar is a pale bluish-green fat caterpillar with four conspicuous red rounded horns at its head and a yellow tail. In addition, the caterpillar has lines of bluish-black tubercles along its sides and back. You’ll also notice that its forelegs and prolegs are a pale-yellow color.

The promethea silkmoth caterpillar grows 1.77” to 2.36” (4.5 – 6 cm) long. These large, plump green caterpillars feed on the leaves of various deciduous trees and ornamental plants. It also feeds on the spicebush (Lindera benzoin), which gives it its other common name, the spicebush silkmoth caterpillar.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The promethea silkmoth caterpillar is identified by its four bright red protuberances on its head, blue-green body, and yellow tail.

Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth Caterpillar (Darapsa Myron)

Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth Caterpillar (Darapsa Myron)

The green Virginia creeper sphinx moth caterpillar has brownish spots on its back and pale lines on its side

The larva of the Virginia creeper sphinx moth is a green caterpillar with a large head. Identifying marks of this moth caterpillar are its reddish-brown markings on its back, faint pale green speckles, and bulging head. The green caterpillar also has yellowish green streaks on its side.

The Virginia creeper sphinx caterpillar is a horned green caterpillar that grows 2” (5 cm) long. Its host plants are typically Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and grape leaves (Vitis). The caterpillars are common in the eastern United States, from Florida to Maine.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The Virginia creeper sphinx caterpillar is identified by its enlarged head, brownish dorsal markings, and pointed tail.

Gray Furcula Moth Caterpillar (Furcula cinerea)

Gray Furcula Moth Caterpillar (Furcula cinerea)

The gray furcula moth caterpillar is easily identified by its green body with dark brown marking on its back and forked tail

The gray furcula moth caterpillar is an unusual green caterpillar due to the large blackish-brown irregularly shaped markings on its back. The black splotches have yellow margins with orange and yellow marks in the center. In addition, the strange green caterpillar has an elongated pointed tail and flattened head.

Other unusual features of this green and brown caterpillar are its long, narrow tail-like projections and the brown, red, and green rings. Its side is also speckled with brown and orange dots.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The gray furcula moth caterpillar has several features making it easy to identify. Its green abdomen has large brownish-black patches with faint orange marks. In addition, its tail end has projections that look like a forked tail.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth Caterpillar (Hemaris diffinis)

Snowberry Clearwing Moth Caterpillar (Hemaris diffinis)

The green snowberry clearwing caterpillar’s body is covered with tiny white spots and it has a black horn at its tail end

The snowberry clearwing caterpillar is a pale lime-green caterpillar. The moth larva has a pronounced black tail spike, green and yellow longitudinal bands, and a row of bluish-black dots along its sides. In addition, tiny white granular spots cover the green caterpillar. In some cases, the larva grows as a brown caterpillar.

This green caterpillar is a type of hornworm due to its pointed black tail with a yellow band at its base. The larvae of the snowberry clearwing moth typically feed on honeysuckle, lantana, thistles, Canada violet, and lilac plants.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The snowberry clearwing moth caterpillar has a green body with a yellow band behind its head, black spots along its abdomen, and a black spike for a tail.

Bedstraw Hawk-Moth Caterpillar (Hyles gallii)

Bedstraw Hawk-Moth Caterpillar (Hyles gallii)

The bedstraw hawk moth caterpillar is a large green caterpillar with yellow lines and spots and reddish tail horn

The larva of the bedstraw hawk-moth is a green hornworm with a dark green abdomen and bands of bright creamy-yellow spots along its body. Other notable features of this spotted green caterpillar are its arched red tail horn, bluish-green head, and black prolegs. The large green caterpillar grows up to 3.1” (8 cm).

The bedstraw hawk-moth caterpillar can also be a black caterpillar with yellow spots or a yellow-spotted orange caterpillar. You’ll find the long cigar-shaped larva feeding on fireweed, bedstraw, fuchsia, and Plantago plants.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The bedstraw hawk-moth caterpillar is a large green cylindrical caterpillar, identified by its bands of yellow spots along its side and pronounced bright red tail.

Georgian Prominent Caterpillar (Hyperaeschra georgica)

Georgian Prominent Caterpillar (Hyperaeschra georgica)

The pale green Georgian prominent caterpillar has a yellow line at its sides and orange bump at its tail end

The larva of the Georgian prominent moth is a large pale green caterpillar with a continuous yellow band along its body. In addition, this long caterpillar has bands of small faint green splotches along its back. An identifying feature of the green caterpillar is its orangish-red bump at its tail end.

The Georgian prominent moth caterpillar feeds on deciduous trees throughout North America.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The Georgian prominent caterpillar has a whitish-green body with a pronounced yellow, red-edged stripe along its sides just above its legs.

Lacecapped Caterpillar (Oligocentria lignicolor)

Lacecapped Caterpillar (Oligocentria lignicolor)

The green lacecapped caterpillar can be easily recognized by its silvery blotch on its back and sides

The lacecapped moth larva is a green caterpillar that resembles bird poop. The fat, cylindrical dark green caterpillar has a large grayish-white blotch on its back and sides. The green, white, and brown mottled patterns help to camouflage the caterpillar to protect it from predators.

The lacecapped green caterpillar grows up to 1.77” (4.5 cm) long. You will commonly find it gorging on leaves growing on beech, oak, and chestnut trees.

Green Caterpillar Identification

The lacecapped moth caterpillar is a large green caterpillar with recognizable mottled gray blotches on its back and sides.

Frequently Asked Questions about Green Caterpillars

Are green caterpillars worms?

Although some green caterpillars are referred to as worms, they are in a different class. Caterpillars such as inchworms and cabbage worms belong to the class Insecta. Worms are a species of invertebrate in the class Clitellata.

Why are caterpillars green?

Many caterpillars are green because it is a great camouflage mechanism in the wild. Some green caterpillar species have special markings to frighten off prey or make them look like venomous creatures.

Are green caterpillars poisonous?

Generally, green caterpillars are not poisonous. Some species ingest toxic substances from plants to give them a bitter taste to any animal that may want to eat them. Most green caterpillars don’t sting or bite.

What do green caterpillars eat?

Like most moth or butterfly larvae, green caterpillars need to gorge on plant food to increase their weight. This gives them enough energy to metamorphose into beautiful flying insects. Caterpillars tend to munch their way through leaves on the host plant. Only if there is a large infestation of caterpillars, will they do extensive damage.

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