Professor L. L. Hyche
Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology
Auburn University
Revised 11/2001

Lepidopterans develop through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. It is the larva, or caterpillar, that is the foliage feeder. The typical caterpillar is generally elongate, and has a distinct head and a cylindrical body composed of 13 segments. The first three segments behind the head constitute the thorax, and each thoracic segment possesses a pair of jointed legs. The remaining 10 segments make up the abdomen. In the typical caterpillar, abdominal segments three, four, five, six, and 10, each bears a pair of fleshy, unjointed, protuberances called prolegs. However, in some caterpillar groups, prolegs may be modified or absent, or occur only on segments six and 10, or five, six, and 10. Prolegs are equipped with rows or circles of small hooks called crochets, which help caterpillars hold to leaves and other surfaces.

Caterpillars are among the most common of all insect forms found on the foliage of trees. They come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes; some do not resemble at all the typical. Some species are bare and smooth, other are variously clothed or adorned with hairs, bristles, spines, tubercles, or horn-like projections. Several families contain common and/or important species found on Alabama trees. Species included herein are grouped by families.

SATURNIIDAE - Wild Silk Moths or Giant Silkworms

SPHINGIDAE - Sphinx Moths, Hawk Moths, Hummingbird Moths, Hornworms

NOTODONTIDAE - Datanas and Prominents


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