Many little critters in our gardens have cigar shaped
bodies and munch on our plants. Most people lump them
all together under the term "caterpillar".
Caterpillar - Technically,
caterpillars are the
immature (larval) stage of either a moth or a butterfly.
They are members of the very large insect family,
Lepidoptera. The ones that we commonly see in the
home landscape are generally foliage eaters that chew on
our leaves. The caterpillar has three pairs of legs
under its thorax which is the area right behind the
head. It has between two and five pairs of prolegs on
their abdomen behind the thorax.
The adults are moths and
butterflies which have large wings in relation to their
body size. They often feed on the nectar in the flowers
in our gardens. Why some of these flying insects are
called moths and others are butterflies is not clear.
Entomologists agree on most of them but there is a gray
line between whether some species are butterflies or
Sawfly Larvae - In the garden several insects
such as European pine sawfly or Mount Ash sawfly larvae
look a lot like caterpillars. One difference is that
they do not turn into moths or butterflies. Their adult
stage is a type of fly related to wasps and bees. Also,
the larvae tend to feed in groups and have no hairs on