The caterpillar (larva) picture galleries contain identification photos of many of the most distinctive caterpillars of British butterflies, moths, sawflies and other insects commonly seen in the British Isles.
All insects have a caterpillar or larval stage and a count of the caterpillar legs can often identify in which order of insects a caterpillar belongs.
The picture galleries also include some caterpillar species that despite being common are less likely to be seen because of their cryptic markings or secretive life cycle.
Displayed images may include those sent to us as part of a caterpillar identification enquiry for a species not appearing in the gallery.
If you have good images of species not appearing and would like to have them added with accreditation they would be greatly appreciated. Identification requests and photographs can be sent to Steve – email address email@example.com
Our caterpillar and larvae galleries
Guide to using the caterpillar galleries
Follow the links above to go to the caterpillar galleries. When using the galleries to identify a caterpillar please be aware that the larvae of many species of insect dramatically change appearance as they grow and moult.
The images shown are of fully grown caterpillars unless stated.
Some species even have caterpillars with different colour forms within the same brood.
The photographs are of caterpillars either seen in the field or that have been reared through in order to either confirm identity or to record their transitional and variable forms.
Identifying some caterpillars solely from photos is not always easy and other information can be helpful – see help with caterpillar identification.
One of the most common caterpillar enquiries received from gardeners are those for sawflies larvae. Despite many being difficult to identify from photographs a count of the legs can often determine if they are indeed sawflies.
Some larvae may be garden pests and gardeners understandably wish to control them. In such cases identification is important as other larvae such as those of ladybirds and hoverflies can be extremely beneficial.