How many different species of British caterpillar are there?

There are over 2,600 species of moths and butterflies in the British Isles alone.

Worldwide there are likely to be hundreds of thousands. How many is uncertain as in many countries little is known about this early stage of a butterfly or moth’s life-cycle.

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

We welcome identification queries but please add information such as location/country and approximate size as outlined in the identification link.

Some caterpillars of particular interest may feature in news and latest sightings and picture galleries with accreditation.

Butterfly and moth caterpillar galleries

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

Galleries for many other parts of the world are being added including North America, The United States and Canada, Africa and Asia. Many of the caterpillar photos received from abroad will be featured in galleries and latest sightings.

Please note

There is still much to learn about the early stages of many moths and butterflies. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate identifications and information errors can occur. Should an error be spotted please let us know.

Guide to rearing caterpillar

This Introduction to rearing caterpillars and step by step guide on How to rear caterpillars of butterflies and moths has been added in response to the many questions asked.

Hairy caterpillars

Although in general 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.

Latest caterpillar sightings

See reports of the Latest caterpillars sightings from around the world

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.

Other sections in our Illustrated Guide to Caterpillars

Our caterpillar and larvae galleries