How many different species of British caterpillar are there?

There are over 2,600 species of moths and butterflies in the British Isles. The caterpillars of this large family of insects known as Lepidoptera can vary greatly in size, colour, shape, pattern and behaviour. Even the number, position and type of legs can vary between species and features such as this can help with identification.

Caterpillar identification queries

PLEASE NOTE – We welcome identification queries but have closed our comments page for logistical reasons. In 2013/14 we were pleased to receive over 1,000 emailed caterpillar enquiries, some of which were featured on our latest sightings and in our galleries. Please see help with caterpillar identification.

Butterfly and moth galleries

The galleries of Butterfly caterpillars and Moth caterpillars contain images of many of the caterpillars most likely to be seen in the British Isles.

Latest caterpillar sightings

See reports of the Latest caterpillars sightings

Caterpillar pests

Certain species of caterpillars can at times become so prolific that they can cause significant damage to vegetable crops, garden shrubs and trees.

Hairy caterpillars

Although in general British caterpillars are not a danger to our health there are some species of hairy caterpillars that can cause unpleasant skin irritation unless care is taken.

Other sections in our popular Illustrated Guide to British Caterpillars

Our caterpillar and larvae galleries