Caterpillars are the larvae of moths, butterflies and a couple of other kinds of insects. In other words, a caterpillar is just one stage of three in the growing process for these insects. Moths or butterflies have eggs that hatch into caterpillars, which is the form they stay at for usually two to four weeks before they go into a period of metamorphosis and turn into a moth or butterfly.
Once the baby caterpillar hatches from its egg, it starts to eat large amounts in order to grow properly in such a short amount of time. As the caterpillar continues to grow, it has to molt or shed in order to keep growing into its own skin.
There are several types of caterpillars, all of which vary in color, size, shape, behavior and life cycle requirements. Most caterpillars are solitary; however some live in colonies and construct nests. A caterpillar usually grows fast, but some that live in colder climates can take one to two years to grow because the short warm season leaves little time for feeding and growth.
Fun Caterpillar Facts
- A caterpillar typically sheds 5 times before it goes through metamorphosis.
San Diego Zoo
U.S. Geological Survey
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