Discovering the World of 22 Stunning Red Caterpillars in 2024 ( Updated)

Earth has as many creatures as you can imagine, and there may be more than that. And all of them have as many colors as you can think of. If we chose a color and tried to find creatures of that color, Then definitely you will find it. The majority of people adore the color red. So today we are going to find some red caterpillars. We all admire the beauty of butterflies.

But before butterflies, we found caterpillars, and these caterpillars are cute, colorful, and beautiful. And here are the 22 most stunning red caterpillars you’ve ever seen.

22 Stunning Red Caterpillars On Earth

1. White-blotched prominent caterpillar

Scientific name: Heterocampa umbrata

The white-blotched prominent caterpillar has various appearances. Likewise, it includes a bright fuchsia pink or pinkish-red with purple diamond-like splotches and other variations that blend in with the surrounding foliage.

The white blotches on the top of the body are visible on green or brown caterpillars.

The light brown head has a pale midline shaped like a ‘V’ and a small, shiny black or red stump on either side, resembling small eyes on the back of the head.

2. Red Drab Prominent Caterpillar

Scientific name: Misogada unicolor

The Drab Prominent Caterpillar, a North American species. This is known for its color-changing instars. The color ranges from green to red and then to red with pink dorsal stripes.

These caterpillars can only select young tree hosts and feed on poplar tree leaves, leaving the thick veins behind. In the right conditions, they can reach up to 42 mm in size.

Adult moths are mostly brown and have vivid coloring once they emerge from the pupa. Larvae feed on Populus sect. Aigeiros and Platanus species, with young feeding in groups and skeletonizing the undersides of leaves.

Older larvae are solitary feeders, only leaving major veins. Full-grown larvae reach 30-42 mm in length. Found from April to September.

3. Stinging rose caterpillars

Scientific name: Parasa indetermina

Stinging Rose Caterpillars are a unique species native to Eastern North America. This uncommon red caterpillar is known for their multicolored bodies with red dorsal sides and yellow spike-like formations.

These caterpillars can be found on trees, such as oak and maple, rose bushes, and fruit trees. The caterpillars feed on various foliage, including rose, dogwood, apple, cherry, bayberry, hickory, maple, poplar, and oak.

The specimen in Washington County, Arkansas, has a fiery red ground color and brilliant yellow, spined tubercles that warn predators of its poisonous qualities. Many caterpillars lack the red ground color and are yellow throughout.

The black-tipped spines on the elongated body wall projections have poison glands, which can cause skin irritation similar to that of saddleback caterpillars.

Specialized irritating spines, called caltrop spines, are present on the lateral horns of several segments.

4. Cactus Moth Caterpillar

Scientific name: Cactoblastis cactorum

Cactoblastis cactorum is an introduced species in North America. This uncommon red, orange, and black caterpillar is found in Florida. Its larvae, which have an orange-red color with black stripes, change color completely until maturity.

These caterpillars grow inside cacti, which they use for food. They play a beneficial role in reducing the number of invasive cacti, but they can also reduce the number of edible or endangered cacti.

The bright colors of the larvae turn brown and black on adult moths. The species’ introduction has led to its control in various countries.

5. Polydamas Swallowtail

Scientific name: Battus polydamas

Battus polydamas is a species of caterpillar with a dark red color that darkens as it grows and orange-to-red tubercles. This species can reach over 2 inches in size in the last instar and feeds exclusively on pipevines, also known as birthwort.

These plants were used for childbirth healing in ancient Egypt. Polydamas Swallowtail caterpillars absorb aristolochic acids, making them distasteful to their natural predators.

Full-grown larvae range from dark brown with black-tipped orange tubercles to light tan with pale tubercles. The cuticle has a pattern of darker lines, making lighter-colored specimens less common.

6. Henry’s Elfin Caterpillars

Scientific name: Callophrys henrici

Henry’s Elfin Caterpillars are native to the eastern parts of the United States and have vivid red color and white dorsal dots.

These uncommon red and white caterpillars are found in Texas. They feed on specific southern plants like dahoon and redbud.

These uncommon red and white caterpillars are found on blueberries and woodlands.

They only appear in one brood per year and change color completely when they mature, changing from green to reddish with white chevrons.

7. European gypsy moth caterpillar

Scientific name: Lymantria dispar dispar

Caterpillars emerge from egg masses in spring and typically hatch within a week or a month. They remain on or near the egg cluster in rainy weather or cold temperatures.

They grow to 50 or 90 millimeters long and feed on leaf hairs and the leaf epidermis.

As they grow, they become nocturnal feeders and create silk mats for attachment. To grow, larvae must molt, with males typically having five instars and females having six.

When they reach the fourth instar, they become nocturnal feeders and return to their resting places at dawn.

Newly hatched larvae are black with long setae, while older larvae have five pairs of raised blue spots and six pairs of raised brick-red spots. As the larval stage ends, they cease feeding and surround themselves in a silken net.

8. Atala Caterpillar

Scientific name: Eumaeus atala

Atala caterpillars, a first warning sign for predators, have a striking red coloration with yellow dots on the back.

They live on native and introduced palm species like arrowheads, which have a reduced number of toxins stored in their bodies.

These toxins are essential for the adult caterpillar, known for its slow flight and defenseless nature.

The red-colored caterpillar turns to the adult Atala butterfly. It has a red lower body and red spots on the wings.

9. Banded sphinx caterpillar

Scientific name: Eumorpha fasciatus

The banded sphinx caterpillar is native to North America. It is characterized by its vibrant red larvae, long black and white stripes, and distinctive light green body pattern.

This vibrant caterpillar stands out in any habitat, feeding on a variety of plants like magnolias, Virginia creepers, and evening primroses.

Its life cycle includes the egg, larva, pupa, and adult moth. The caterpillar emits a faint glow when exposed to UV light, making it a unique sight in any habitat.

10. Question mark caterpillar

Scientific name: Polygonia interrogationis

The question mark Butterfly larvae, which can grow up to 1.4 inches in length, have a reddish-brown head with short spines and a pair of branching spines on top.

Their body color is black with variable white or yellowish lines and spots. The spines range from yellow and orange to black.

Like all lepidopteran larvae, the larvae mature through instars, where they undergo apolysis, releasing the cuticle from the softer epidermis and forming a new cuticle.

The larva moults the old cuticle, and the new cuticle expands before hardening and developing pigment. The development of butterfly wing patterns begins in the last larval instar.

11. Walnut caterpillars

Scientific name: Datana integerrima

Walnut caterpillars are small, yellow, and black caterpillars that feed on the leaves of walnut trees, pecan trees, and hickory trees. They are heavy feeders but are eaten by birds and other predators.

They feed on leaves high in the canopy but crawl down the tree to molt, leaving a hairy ball of shed skins before returning to the foliage.

This ‘hair ball’ can be scraped off the trunk with an obliging stick, even with living caterpillars still in it, and discarded at least 8 meters away from the tree.

Mature caterpillars eventually dig into the soil to pupate, and late-season caterpillars pupate underground through the winter. In North Carolina, there are two generations per year, and they overwinter as pupae in the soil.

12. Splendid Royal Moth Caterpillar

Scientific name: Citheronia splendens

Arizona is home to the Splendid Royal Moth. The caterpillar is a moth species with red wings and a unique red-brown stage.

As the species approaches pupation, its colors darken, resembling bird droppings, to deter predators.

These caterpillars are not pests, as they eat wild cotton leaves and plants in the sumac or manzanita families, not crops. Their evolutionary goal is to mimic bird droppings, preventing predators from consuming them.

13. Spurge hawk moth caterpillar

Scientific name: Hyles euphorbiae

The caterpillar is smooth and black, with numerous whitish dots and eleven large spots of the same color. It feeds on sea spurge and has a red horn at the base and a black horn at the tip.

The chrysalis is pale brown and delicately lined with black. It buries itself in loose, dry sand on the seacoast.

The larvae are black with white dots and have another set of coral-red spots beneath them. The head and posterior end horn are the same color, connected by a bright coral-red line.

14. Oslar’s oakworm

Scientific name: Anisota oslari

Anisota oslari caterpillars, found on hardwood trees like Mexican oak in Texas and Arizona, have a red or red-brown color and are initially seen feeding in groups.

They primarily damage oak tree foliage during their first instars and later break out into solitary feeding.

The species’ damage is significant and should be eliminated when possible. Adult Oslar’s oakworm moths have different yellow-brown coloring.

15. Pipevine swallowtail caterpillar

Scientific name: Battus philenor

Pipevine swallowtail larvae, ranging from dark brown to black, are around 5 cm long and have bright orange spots on the ends of tubercles in rows along their body.

They have a glossy or velvet appearance due to many fine hairs and can be identified by pits along the ventral surface at the ends of the abdominal sections.

Southern Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars are red, while those in other regions of the US are black with tiny red dorsal dots.

The species has destructive feeding habits, eating on the leaves of its host plants, eventually becoming more solitary as food sources deplete. Larvae filaments help them identify vertical plants, which are determined by their mouthparts.

16. Banded Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Banded Woolly bear caterpillar
Banded Woolly bear caterpillar

Scientific name: Pyrrharctia isabella

The Banded Woolly Bear Caterpillar, a harmless caterpillar with black and rust-colored spiky hairs, is a safe and active species that feeds on weeds, flowers, grasses, and tree leaves.

As it matures, the middle band of color expands, replacing the black parts. The caterpillar is active and moves well, and its feeding behaviors do not usually damage plants, so there is no need to control population size.

After summer’s bulking up on foliage, caterpillars seek shelter under bark, wood stacks, and leaf litter to survive the cold winter.

They are often seen in the autumn searching for a suitable place to stay.

Vermillion, Ohio, and Banner Elk, North Carolina, host annual festivals in honor of the Woollybear Caterpillar, with legend suggesting that the center band of color predicts the length of winter.

17. Clear dagger caterpillar

Scientific name: Acronicta clarescens

The clear dagger moth, native to North America, has a red-brown color throughout its growth stages and darkens towards the instars. Its pupa also has a red-brown color.

Emerging moths have a molted gray color and are seen flying during the summer. These caterpillars are minor pests of host trees, feeding on ash, apple, and cherry leaves.

They have a wingspan of about 40 mm and feed on various fruits, such as apples, cherries, mountain ash, plums, and wild black cherries. Their health impact is minimal.

18. Spiny elm caterpillar

Scientific name: Nymphalis antiopa

The spiny elm caterpillar is about 5 centimeters in length. They are mostly black and spiny, with small white speckles on their surface. Along their back is a row of red spots running between their spikes.

The adult butterfly is considered a medium butterfly with a wingspan between 6 and 7 centimeters.

The Mourning Cloak has velvety wings that range from black to a dark red color, with a bright yellow band along the border of its wings. Between the yellow border and the dark inner portion of their wings is a row of light blue spots.

19. Pin-striped Vermilion Slug Moth Caterpillar

Scientific name: Monoleuca semifascia

The Pin-striped Vermilion Slug Moth Caterpillar is a peach-colored caterpillar with wavy, bright reddish-orange, black, or dark brown vertical striping in three sequences of a four-stripe pattern.

It has a pinkish-orange body with black, white, or yellow striping and numerous stinging hairs. The caterpillar begins life mostly green and slowly turns red-brown before pupating.

Originating in southeastern US territories, it feeds on tree leaves, with oak, pecan, and cherry trees being common.

Once an adult, the moth changes colors to a brown-dominant nuance. The flight period of this species varies greatly, with shorter seasons around New York compared to Florida.

The species is native to southeastern US territories and can be seen in two broods in the south and one brood further north.

20. Goat moth caterpillars

Scientific name: Cossus cossus

Goat Moth Caterpillars, named after their resemblance to goats’ smell, are highly damaging caterpillars that live and feed on live trees. They take years to pupate, causing significant damage to deciduous host trees.

Tree infestations can be detected by the sap in tunnels and holes in trees, which attract flies, moths, and butterflies. These caterpillars are rarely seen outside of tree trunks and are red with yellow or orange nuances on the sides.

When fully grown, they are 100mm long, orangy or red, with almost hairless skin, a black head, and a prothoracic plate. They are most likely seen when many trees exit in late summer and autumn to overwinter in the soil.

21. Azalea caterpillar

Scientific name: Datana major

Immature azalea caterpillars are small, less than 1/2 of an inch long, and rarely found due to minor leaf damage. They are dark red-brown with faint and pale stripes.

Adult caterpillars are about two inches long and distinctly colored, with a red ground color and bright yellow longitudinal stripes.

They have a large, bright red head. Throw up their head and tail when disturbed, revealing red legs and undersides in a threat display.

22. Faithful caterpillar

Scientific name: Composia fidelissima

The Faithful Beauty The caterpillar is a representative red caterpillar found in North America. It has a red or rusty-red coloring. It is found on dogbane in Florida and the West Indies.

Once an adult, the caterpillar changes color to black and blue, with red being a tertiary color. Its larvae are bright red with five rows of dark blue spots, and its black setae cover gives it a spiny appearance.

Found in marl prairie, pine rockland, and rockland hammock habitats, the caterpillar consumes the devil’s potato, oleander, and baybean.

Are red caterpillar venomous?

Red caterpillars, particularly those with specialized spines like the “Stinging Rose Caterpillars” (Parasa indetermina), can be venomous.

These caterpillars possess caltrop spines with poison glands, which can cause skin irritation similar to the effects of saddleback caterpillars.

If touched, the venomous spines may lead to discomfort, itching, or skin reactions.

It’s crucial to exercise caution and avoid direct contact with these caterpillars to prevent potential adverse reactions.

Understanding the characteristics of specific caterpillars and being aware of their venomous nature is important for personal safety when encountering them in their natural habitat.


So as we see, these are some of the beautiful red caterpillars. The caterpillar has a proper, uncommon red color with distinct variation in colors.

Like the goat moth caterpillar, which has uncommon red, yellow, orange, and black colors in it. These red caterpillars look cute and stunning. You can encounter these caterpillars easily in your surroundings.

This is it for today; we will be back with some more information. Still, we all have a lot to learn and encounter a lot of species. Till then, stay tuned with us on  HowItSee.


Q1: Which tree leaves do Red Drab Prominent Caterpillars feed on?

Ans: They feed on poplar tree leaves.

Q2: What is the role of Cactoblastis cactorum, the Cactus Moth Caterpillar?

Ans: Cactoblastis cactorum plays a beneficial role in reducing the number of invasive cacti but can also impact edible or endangered cacti.

Q3: What is the preferred habitat of European gypsy moth caterpillars?

Ans: European gypsy moth caterpillars grow in North America and feed on leaf hairs and the leaf epidermis.

Q4: What is the defense mechanism of Atala caterpillars?

Ans: Atala caterpillars have toxins stored in their bodies, making them distasteful to predators.

Q5: Which plants does the Banded sphinx caterpillar feed on?

Ans: The Banded sphinx caterpillar feeds on a variety of plants like magnolias, Virginia creepers, and evening primroses.

Q6: Which trees do Walnut caterpillars feed on, and how do they pupate?

Ans: Walnut caterpillars feed on walnut, pecan, and hickory trees. They pupate by digging into the soil.

Q7: Which plant is the Pipevine swallowtail caterpillar associated with?

Ans: Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars feed on pipevine leaves.

Q8: What is the distinguishing feature of Clear dagger caterpillar?

Ans: The Clear dagger caterpillar has red-brown coloration throughout its growth stages.

Q9. What trees do Spiny elm caterpillars feed on?

Ans: Spiny elm caterpillars feed on elm trees.

Q10. What is the appearance of the Azalea caterpillar?

Ans: Azalea caterpillars have a dark red-brown color with faint and pale stripes.

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