If you’re a gardener, you’ve probably seen some of the green caterpillars in Texas. Though they’re not as colorful and vibrant as other species, they have their own patterns and designs that make them visually appealing.
If you live nearby, you might be interested in learning more about these caterpillars’ identities and distinctive qualities. To help with that, we’ve listed 13 of the most common green caterpillars you might have seen in Texas, along with some information you should know about them.
13 Green caterpillars in Texas
1. Black swallowtail caterpillars
Scientific Name: Papilio polyxenes
The black swallowtail caterpillar is one of Texas’ most beautiful butterfly larvae. They’re green, with black bands and yellow spots. These caterpillars inhabit various environments, such as meadows, prairies, and forests.
Their preferred hosts are carrot family members such as dill, fennel, celery, and cilantro. Black swallowtail larvae live as caterpillars for 10 to 30 days, depending on the temperature of their surroundings. In order to ward off predators, they display their osmeteria, a horn-like yellow organ that emits a foul odor.
2. Io caterpillars
Scientific Name: Automeris io
The Io caterpillar is a venomous creature that can reach a length of three inches. It has a green body with white stripes that are bordered by red. They’re also covered in venomous spines that sting when touched.
This species’ moths lay their eggs in a variety of trees, including willow, oak, mesquite, and blackberry. After 8 to 11 days, they hatch from the eggs and begin feeding on the leaves of the trees. Caterpillars also live and feed in groups, but these species become more solitary as they mature.
3. Cecropia moth caterpillar
Scientific Name: Hyalophora cecropia
The cecropia moth caterpillar is an eye-catching creature with a body that appears to be covered in colorful needles. This large green caterpillar can grow to be 4 inches long and has tubercles with spines at the tip. Each tubercle row is a different color, such as blue, orange, yellow, or red.
Despite its appearance, this insect does not sting. This caterpillar eats a variety of trees and shrubs, including birch, elm, maple, willow, and apple. They feed for 60 days before maturing and pupating to become adult moths.
4. Long-tailed skipper caterpillar
Scientific Name: Urbanus proteus
The Long-Tailed Skipper Caterpillar is a larva that feeds on the leaves of various legume plants. They’re common in gardens, open habitats, and brushy fields where these plants thrive.
This species’ caterpillars are typically yellow-green in color, with a broad yellow and faint black stripe down the back of their bodies. The head is orange-red, and this species can grow up to 2 inches in length. When not feeding, this insect can be found hiding on rolled leaves.
5. Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar
Scientific Name: Papilio troilus
The larva of the spicebush swallowtail is an interesting green caterpillar found in Texas. This larva is known for having large eyespots that make it look like a snake, which works well for scaring off predators.
They can be found in fields, along roadsides, in yards, and in parks, where they feed on spicebush, sassafras, sweet bay, and tulip trees. During their mid-stage, the caterpillar is green with a faint yellow line on the sides. However, during their final stage, they turn orange-red but retain their eyespots.
Scientific Name: Pieris rapae
As the name implies, this caterpillar is mostly found on cabbages and related vegetable plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. They’re only 1/4 inch long, light green in color, and have short setae all over their body.
Cabbageworms are native to North America and are most commonly found from early spring to early fall. These creatures are also known as loopers because they must loop their bodies to move forward since they lack feet in the middle of their bodies.
7. Tobacco hornworm
Scientific Name: Manduca sexta
Tobacco hornworms are a type of moth larva found in North America, including Texas, New York, Florida, and Canada. They can be found feeding on tobacco, tomato, potato, and eggplant plants. The caterpillar has a green body with white stripes and a red horn at the end, which is used to frighten off predators but is not venomous.
Adult moths lay their eggs on nightshade plants, from which the caterpillars emerge to feed until they mature as larvae. It only takes 30 days for these species to develop from egg to adult.
8. Eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar
Scientific Name: Papilio glaucus
The Eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar is a well-known butterfly larva found in Texas. This incredible creature has a solid green color with two false eyespots to frighten off predators. Woody plants like tulips, birch, willow, and cottonwood are what the larva prefer to eat.
They’re also common near streams, rivers, and swamps, where the adults breed and lay their eggs. They can also be found in parks, fields, and gardens where their host plants are present.
9. Hubbard’s silk moth caterpillar
Scientific Name: Syssphinx hubbardi
Another species of green caterpillar found in Texas is the Hubbard’s silk moth larva. It belongs to the same family as the largest species of moths, the Saturniidae. Caterpillars are well-known for their vibrant colors and patterns.
Their body is a vibrant green with white spots and a distinct purple line down the sides. They also have non-venomous spines and horns on their bodies that are used to deter predators. This species is found in oak forests, where it feeds on oaks and other trees.
10. Polyphemus caterpillar
Scientific Name: Antheraea polyphemus
Polyphemus caterpillars are green caterpillars that can grow up to 3 inches in length. Thin yellow bands can also be seen on their body, as well as wart-like bumps with long hairs on them. They prefer densely forested areas with many trees, particularly willow, oak, red alder, and yellow birch trees, which serve as their host plants.
These caterpillars eat voraciously. Before becoming adult moths, they can consume more than 80,000 times their own weight.
11. Eumorpha sphinx caterpillar
Scientific Name: Eumorpha fasciatus
One of the sphinx moth larvae found in Texas is the eumorpha sphinx caterpillar. They’re moth larvae that eat grapes, Virginia creeper, and ampelopsis. These larvae can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, gardens, and suburbs, as long as their host plants are present.
During their early stages, eumorpha sphinx caterpillars are green with small eyespots on the sides. They do, however, turn a brownish-red color as they mature.
12. Honey locust moth caterpillar
Scientific Name: Syssphinx bicolor
One of the green insects spotted in Texas is the honey locust moth caterpillar. It’s native to North America and can be found in a wide range of habitats, including woodlands and cities.
The caterpillar’s body is yellowish-green with white, red, and yellow stripes on the sides. They have long spiky red horns on their heads, as well as white tubercles all over their bodies. These animals mainly feed on honey locust, but also eat the leaves of Kentucky coffee trees.
13. Northern pearly-eye caterpillar
Scientific Name: Lethe anthedon
The Northern pearly-eye caterpillar is an insect species found in the United States. It’s most common in Texas, but you can also find it in other states. The body of the caterpillar is yellowish green, with a very short setae and a pair of horns on the head.
The caterpillar prefers areas with damp soil near marshes or ponds. They eat a variety of grasses, including white grass, river oats, and bottlebrush grass.