Types of Green Caterpillars with Identification Guide and Pictures

Green Caterpillars

Green caterpillars are some of the most commonly recognizable crawling insects in the wild. All types of caterpillars, including green ones, gorge on a diet of plant and tree leaves. Some of the largest and fattest insects in the Lepidoptera order are green caterpillars. Green caterpillars are identified by their size, specific markings, spines or spikes, and plant food they feed on.

Caterpillars are larvae before they turn into moths or butterflies. Most species of green caterpillars have smooth bodies and are completely harmless. Although green caterpillars aren’t poisonous, 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

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.

In this article, you will find out about the different identifying features of various green caterpillar species.

Types of Green Caterpillars With Names and Pictures (Identification Guide)

Let’s look in more detail at the different green caterpillars you may find crawling on plants in your garden or in the wild.

Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar

Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar

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

Tomato Hornworm caterpillars (Manduca quinquemaculata) are a common type of green caterpillar that can be a real garden pest. This crawling bright green worm gets its name because it feeds on tomato plants.

You can identify this species of Tomato Hornworm caterpillar due to its V-shaped white markings (stripes) on its green body. Also, these ‘hornworms’ have a large head in comparison to the rest of their body. At their rear end, these green caterpillars have a protruding ‘tail’ that looks like a spike (or horn). This is completely harmless as the Tomato Hornworm isn’t a stinging type of insect.

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

Tomato Hornworms are sometimes confused with a related species, the Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta). Both of these large fat green caterpillars can eat their way through a lot of crops.

Identifying features

Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) is a green caterpillar with a horn at one end and distinctive V-shaped white stripes and black or dark dots along its side.

Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) is mostly found in the Northern states of the US and southern Canada.

Winter Moth Caterpillar (Inchworm)

Winter Moth Caterpillar

As seen in the picture, the small Winter Moth is a green caterpillar with pale white stripes along its body

The Winter Moth caterpillar (Operophtera brumata) is a type of inchworm in the family Geometridae and genus Operophtera. This species of caterpillar gets its name 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.

You can also identify these small green caterpillar worms by the pale white stripes that run the length of its inch-long body.

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

Identifying features

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

Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar

Genista Broom Caterpillar

The Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar has a black and white markings on its green-brown body

A green caterpillar with black and white dots can be the Genista Broom caterpillar (Uresiphita reversalis).

You can often find this brownish-green caterpillar crawling on sweet peas, honeysuckles, and various deciduous plants. One way to identify this caterpillar is 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 classed as a furry type of caterpillar, there are wispy white spines sticking out from its body.

Identifying features

A small type of green caterpillar with a slightly hairy body and distinctive markings help identify it.

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 striking black stripes. In their immature stage, these larvae look black and almost resemble bird droppings.

The best way to identify these green 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 caterpillar releases a foul-smelling odor and sticks out an orange ‘tongue’ from its head. This is not a true tongue, but 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.

Identifying features

If you come across this green and black caterpillar, gently squeeze its front end to see orange horns that pop out. However, be careful as this caterpillar also gives off a horrible smell.

Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Emperor Moth Caterpillar

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

One of the larger green caterpillar species is the Emperor moth caterpillar (Saturnia pavonia). This caterpillar is from the Saturniidae family of insects.

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

This is not a poisonous or stinging type of caterpillar. But, the spines are stiff and sharp and may cause some skin irritation.

Identifying features

A large plump green caterpillar with 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) from the Papiliionidae family is unusual due to its distinctive markings. The larvae develop 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 identify this caterpillar are the eye-like markings on its head. These eyespots are yellow or pale green dots with black centers resembling eyes. You can also tell this caterpillar apart by its white or yellowish band just 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.

Identifying features

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

Another type of ‘hornworm’ is the White-lined Sphinx caterpillar (Hyles lineata) which has a 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 of 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 species, 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.

Identifying features

Look for the orange and black horn protruding from the back of this harmless 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. The green copper underwing caterpillar 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.

Identifying features

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 species of caterpillar that has a spiky pale green body. Rather than a smooth body like many green varieties, the Luna caterpillar segments are ridges.

Luna caterpillars from the Saturniidae family of insects are in the group of large silk moths. The lightly-colored green ridged body features red or orange spots, some of which sprout small fine black spines. This is more of a spiky type of caterpillar rather than a hairy one.

Although this caterpillar doesn’t sting, the sharp spikes could prick your skin and cause irritation.

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

Identifying features

One of the more unusual green caterpillars that turn into elegant beautiful green moths.

A large green caterpillar that can grow up to 3.5” (9 cm) in length.

Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillar

Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillar

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

One of the most common caterpillar species is the Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillar (Pieris rapae). 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 these green caterpillars is by their 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 caterpillars may have a bluish-green body with tiny black dots on the segments.

Identifying features

Immature 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

Certainly one of the scariest caterpillars you will find, the Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar (Citheronia regalis) looks very menacing.

The huge bluish-green caterpillar is appropriately called a horned caterpillar. One end of the fat segmented body has long spiky red horns with black tips. Also, each segment of the turquoise-green body has small black spikes. Either end of the caterpillar has red tips.

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

Identifying features

One of the largest green caterpillars, the Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar can grow up to 6” (15 cm) long. Pictures of this caterpillar show that it is 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

Generally found in states such as Texas, Florida, South Carolina, and Mississippi, the Rustic Sphinx caterpillar (Manduca rustica) is a green horned species.

In some ways, this caterpillar looks similar to the Tobacco Hornworm. It has a lime green body and distinctive diagonal white and maroon stripes on its sides. The rear has a large spiky horn which doesn’t sting.

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.

Identifying features

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

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

This is one of the most fascinating types of green caterpillars to look at. When under threat, the larvae extend 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 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 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.

Identifying features

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 type of large green caterpillar with yellow and blue nodules

The Cecropia 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 this caterpillar give the larvae a ridged appearance. One of the unique identifying features of this 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.

Identifying features

One of the largest species of green caterpillar, the Cecropia grows 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.

Identifying features

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 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.

Identifying features

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.

Identifying features

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 grow up to 2.3” (6 cm) long. They emerge from the eggs a rusty-brown color with thin black stinging hairs. The caterpillars gradually turn green and develop the characteristic stinging needle-like green tufts that look like pine needles.

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 just the slightest touch of these stinging venomous caterpillars can cause a lot of pain that lasts an hour or so.

You can identify this species by the 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.

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

Identifying features

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 caterpillar is a pale green to turquoise, plump caterpillar with a large, rounded head and tiny black, eye-like markings. The identifying characteristics of the rough prominent caterpillar are 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 this green caterpillar munching on oak leaves, as well as foliage on birch, alder, maple, cherry, and willow trees.

Identifying features

Identify the rough prominent caterpillar by its smooth, fat, green segmented body with yellow speckled markings, 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. Up close, 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.

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

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.

Identifying features

Identifying characteristic cloudless sulphur caterpillars are their green body, a lateral yellow stripe on each side, rows of blue and black dots, and tiny bristles on the caterpillar’s 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.

Identifying features

Look for a caterpillar with an oval pastel green body, plumes of stinging hairs around its side, 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 beautiful 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 spiny oak slug caterpillar grows up to 0.8” (2 cm) long. 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.

Identifying features

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 worm-like insect 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.

Identifying features

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 caterpillar is one of the most unusual green caterpillars. The fat green to yellow caterpillar has 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.

Identifying features

Spicebush swallowtail identification is by the 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 large, fat green Tobacco Hornworm caterpillar has diagonal white stripes with black dots, 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.

Identifying features

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, dark green dots, 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.

Identifying features

In immature cross-striped cabbage caterpillars, look for the distinctive yellow band along its sides, 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 neon 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.

Identifying features

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.

Identifying features

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 Angel 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.

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.

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).

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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