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12 Caterpillars With Eyespots (Pictures & Facts)

Have you ever seen caterpillars with eyespots on their back? This type of camouflage is called “mimicry,” and caterpillars use it to avoid being eaten by predators.

The caterpillar which is the larval stage of a moth or butterfly, comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some caterpillars even have distinctive markings on their bodies, including eyespots that resemble the eyes of a larger animal.

These eyespots can serve a variety of purposes, from scaring off predators to attracting potential mates. In this listicle, we’ll explore some of the most interesting caterpillars with eyespots and learn more about their unique features and behaviors.

12 Caterpillars With Eyespots

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how these caterpillars fool predators and different kinds of caterpillars with eyespots.

1. Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar
Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar | image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The spicebush swallowtail caterpillar has two sets of “eyes” on its back. The false eyes are meant to scare predators away.

When a predator sees the false eyes, it thinks that the caterpillar is looking at it. This makes the predator think twice about attacking the caterpillar.

2. Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger swallowtail caterpillar
Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar crawling on leaf | image by Dean Morley via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

The caterpillars of the tiger swallowtail are also fascinating. They have fake eyes on their back that help to scare away predators.

The tiger swallowtail caterpillar also has a long, thin tail that resembles a tiger’s tail. This helps to confuse predators further.

3. Tersa Sphinx Moth

Tersa sphinx caterpillar
Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar | image by PiccoloNamek via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

The Tersa sphinx caterpillar is the larvae of a species of moth that is found in North America. The caterpillar for this moth has fake eyes on its back that give it the appearance of a snake. These eyes are black and tan circles on their sides.

The caterpillar mimics a snake to deter predators. Tersa sphinx are native to Mexico and the southwestern United States. The moth has a wingspan of about four inches. The front of its body is brown, while the back is tan.

4. Elephant Hawk Moth

elephant hawk caterpillar
Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar | image by Alison Day via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

The elephant hawk moth is a large moth with distinctive caterpillars. The caterpillars have false eyes on their back, which helps to deter predators. The false eyes on the caterpillars’ backs are black spots.

However, they are surrounded by a bright white or yellow ring. This creates the illusion of a much larger eye.

The elephant hawk moth is found in Europe and Asia. It gets its name from the fact that its caterpillars resemble small elephants.

5. Silver-Spotted Skipper Butterfly

silver spotted skipper caterpillar
Silver Spotted Skipper Caterpillar | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The silver-spotted skipper is a small but mighty creature! It has some amazing defense mechanisms that help it to stay safe from predators. The silver-spotted skipper has a special defense mechanism that helps it to avoid being eaten by predators.

This caterpillar has two large fake eyes on its bulbous head. The silver-spotted skipper also has a chemical in its body that makes it taste bad to predators. So this caterpillar has definitely adapted for survival.

6. Pergesa Hawk Moth

pergesa hawk moth caterpillar
Pergesa Acteus | image by Gee via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The Pergesa hawkmoth is a species of moth that is found in southern Asia and Indonesia. They’re also widely distributed in Japan and the Philippines. The fake eyes on the back of pergesa hawkmoth caterpillars help to protect them from predators by giving them the appearance of being a snake.

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The caterpillars are camouflaged green, and large false eyes line their lower abdomen. They look like a snake heads to ward off predators.

7. Oleander Hawk Moth

oleander hawk moth caterpillar
Oleander Hawk Moth Caterpillar | image by Alison Day via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

The caterpillars of the oleander hawk moth are green with black spots; some have beautiful light blue eyespots on their back. This gives the appearance of a snake or predator.

The caterpillars feed on leaves, flowers, and fruits. They are particularly fond of oleander plants.

When the caterpillars are ready to pupate, they build a cocoon out of silk and leaves. The cocoons are often found on the ground or low-growing plants.

8. Pandora Sphinx Moth

pandora sphinx moth caterpillar
Pandora Sphinx Moth Caterpillar | image by Lisa King via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The Pandora sphinx moth is found in North America. The caterpillars are green, brown, or almost black with a series of false eyes down their sides.

Their posture of rearing up when disturbed gives them their name because they look like a sphinx. This caterpillar pupates on the ground, in soil.

9. Red Helen Swallowtail Butterfly

red helen swallowtail caterpillar
Red Helen Swallowtail Caterpillar | image by BRIJESH EP via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The red helen swallowtail is a native of India and Southeast Asia. It can be found in various habitats, including rainforests, woodlands, and gardens. This caterpillar has two black spots on its back that look like eyes with a ridge in between, giving an even more realistic appearance.

The false eyes are just one of the many interesting features of this caterpillar. They also have other camouflage.

The red helen swallowtail caterpillar also sports tan and white stripes. These stripes help to camouflage the caterpillar from predators.

10. Great Orange Tip Butterfly

great orange tip caterpillar
Great Orange Tip Caterpillar | image by Dr. Raju Kasambe via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

The great orange tip has two large, fake eyes on its back that help to scare away predators. It can also mimic the movements of a snake, so birds stay away.

The creature gets its name because the butterfly has beautiful orange-tipped wings. The caterpillar has orange spots on either side behind its fake eyes, adding to its intimidation.

The great orange tip caterpillar is not harmful to humans. However, if you touch one of these caterpillars, you may experience an allergic reaction.

11. Jade Hawk Moth

jade hawk moth caterpillar
Jade Hawk Moth Caterpillar | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The jade hawk moth is a species that is found in Sri Lanka. This caterpillar is unique because it has two fake eyes on its back and a series of spots on either of its sides that look like eyes. The moth and caterpillar are uniquely camouflaged to blend into the leafy vegetation.

The caterpillar also has a horn on its tail for defense. The jade hawk-moth caterpillar is not poisonous or harmful to humans.

However, if you touch one of these caterpillars, it will release a foul-smelling liquid from its body.

12. Bedstraw Hawk Moth

Bedstraw hawk moth caterpillar
Bedstraw Hawk Moth caterpillar | image by Ilia Ustyantsev via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The bedstraw hawk-moth caterpillar is a fascinating creature. It has a series of large yellow eyes down its back, which help to scare off predators. The color of the caterpillar darkens as it ages.

When ready to pupate, they might look like a licorice color, and they have unmistakable yellow false eyes down their back. The bedstraw hawk moth caterpillar is not poisonous, but it can give you a nasty sting if you handle it carelessly.

If you are unlucky enough to be stung, you may experience swelling and itching for a few days.