30 Vibrant Yellow Caterpillars in Their Larval Stage (2024): Updates

One day, while scrolling through my screen, my gaze froze upon a stunning yellow caterpillar munching on leaves. It looks so similar to a snake, but that’s a caterpillar.

My curiosity drove me to seek its identity because I wanted to know if it would be a moth or a butterfly. Moreover, I was so excited to know about him, and after searching it on Google, it revealed its name as the Spicy Bush Caterpillar, scientifically known as Papilio troilus.

Also, between all the searching processes, I came across many beautiful caterpillars. Just as we admire the cheerful yellow sun, these yellow-hued creatures bring happiness and joy. Today, we present a compilation of 25 enchanting yellow caterpillars.

25 Yellow Caterpillars

1. Yellow Sunflower Moth Caterpillar

Scientific name: Stiria rugifrons

The Yellow Sunflower Moth Caterpillar, as its name implies, thrives and sustains itself by consuming a variety of sunflower species. This is the reason why it predominantly exhibits a yellow color.

Speaking of its coloration, it closely mirrors its host plant, featuring a prominent shade of yellow while the adult moth displays varying shades of brown.

If you’re curious about their most common habitat, you’ll frequently encounter them from Minnesota down to the southern regions of Texas.

2. Definite Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Scientific name: Orgyia definita

The Tussock moth caterpillar boasts a fully hair-covered body, typically sporting a sleek black body. Over that, they have long, bright yellow hairs. They are generally seen in the early spring.

Talking about its color, when it became a fully grown caterpillar, it got its bright yellow dominant color and had dark black dorsal stripes with four large yellow glands.

This caterpillar looks cute because of its hairy appearance; however, it may come as a surprise that these hairs can provoke skin irritation upon contact. It is commonly found in oak trees, willow, and ash.

3. Huckleberry Sphinx Caterpillar

Scientific name: Paonias astylus

Have you ever encountered a cute caterpillar who likes to eat berries? Here is one: The Huckleberry Sphinx caterpillar is a unique species of caterpillar, with green as its base color and yellow stripes throughout its life stages.

Its name originates from its primary food source, huckleberries. Do they eat huckleberries only? They not only like huckleberries but also blueberries.

Furthermore, this caterpillar species can be found in various states along the Atlantic Coast. Maybe you are wondering what it will be like after getting mature.

As it matures, it transforms into a moth with enchanting features, featuring rich brown and yellow color on its wings, notably large, vibrant yellow hindwings, and a spectrum of brown to yellow shades on its forewings.

4. Silver-Spotted Skipper Caterpillar

Scientific name: Epargyreus clarus

Have you ever come across the Silver-Spotted Skipper caterpillar in North America’s landscapes? You can identify this caterpillar species because of its vibrant yellow-green body paired with a brown head adorned with cheerful yellow spots near its eyes. Isn’t that intriguing?

Moving forward, these caterpillars usually feed at night, but you can see them during the day too. Looking at their appearance, these caterpillars have a long body that can reach a maximum length of 2 inches with a strip-like pattern on the whole body.

Also, some black spots on its yellow body make it look more adorable. It’s like nature’s artwork in motion! In short, this uncommon yellow caterpillar has some tones of brown and black.

5. Ruddy Daggerwing Caterpillar

Scientific name: Marpesia petreus

Next up, let’s delve into the fascinating world of the ruddy daggerwing caterpillar. The ruddy daggerwing caterpillar has a combination of body colors of yellow and black as a prominent one.

But there’s more to it than meets the eye; take a closer look, and you’ll notice intriguing red markings adorning its underside. Looking forward, this uncommon yellow caterpillar has a pair of long spines on the whole back and two long horns on the top.

Furthermore, we cannot say a single name for its host because there are multiple. But what about its dietary preferences, you might wonder?

Unlike some caterpillars with a specific host plant, the Ruddy Daggerwing caterpillar is a bit of a culinary explorer.

This species of caterpillar feeds on various plants, but one thing is common: they like nectar-rich plants such as milkweed.

6. Southern Ugly-Nest Caterpillar

Scientific name: Archips rileyanus

Meet the fascinating southern ugly caterpillar, a creature whose name might mislead you. Despite its unflattering moniker, this caterpillar actually exudes a certain charm.

Moreover, this caterpillar has a darker appearance, but as soon as it evolves, it turns into a yellow caterpillar. In addition, its yellow body has tiny black spots and a black head.

Growing to a substantial size, a mature caterpillar can span from 19 to 26 millimeters. Can you guess how it undergoes such a dramatic change in color as it matures?

In the journey from an instar to an adult caterpillar, this caterpillar goes through various stages, but in all stages, it has some shades of yellow.

In the final or last larval stage, it has a yellowish-green body with black legs. Besides its prothoracic shield, the thoracic legs and anal shield are also sometimes black and brown.

7. Miller Dagger Caterpillar

Scientific name: Acronicta leporina

The next caterpillar on our list is the milled dagger caterpillar. This particular caterpillar calls North America home, thriving in its native climate and terrain.

Now, here’s a question to get you thinking: What’s the preferred diet of these caterpillars? They like to feed on tree leaves in birch, poplar, and aspen.

Considering their appearance, they have long, soft, pale yellow hairs pointing forward and backward.

But wait, there’s more! It also has some small hair pencils in black and white. But these black and white hairs are not as long as yellow hairs.

8. Banded Tussock Moth caterpillars

Scientific name: Halysidota tessellaris

Have you ever come across a fascinating banded tussock moth caterpillar in Eastern North America? Generally, they are known for their yellow hairs and dorsal brown band.

As they mature into adults, they retain their vibrant yellow color with a subtle tint of orange in their bodies.

Also, you can find them munching on various trees, including oak, alder, birch, willow, elm, and ash.

These caterpillars are cute, but you should stay away from their beautiful hair. Here is the reason why the banded tussock moth is somewhat controversial due to its potential to cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals.

9. Io Moth Caterpillar

Scientific name: Automeris io

Let’s now explore the world of the Automeris io, more commonly recognized as the Io moth caterpillar. You might know it as the Io moth caterpillar.

Have you ever encountered this distinctive yellow caterpillar as it undergoes its remarkable transformation into a charming yellow moth?

During its lifecycle, the Io moth goes through several distinct stages of development. First, these moths are reddish-brown; as their lifecycle began, their stars became yellowish-brown.

As a fully grown adult caterpillar, it has a body covered in thick bristles with stinging spines that release an irritating venom. In the second and fourth stages of its lifecycle, it has a yellow color with a tone of brown.

10. Delightful Dagger Caterpillar

Scientific name: Acronicta vinnula

Meet the charming dagger caterpillar, a tiny creature adorned in striking shades of yellow or yellow-green and sporting two elegant white dorsal stripes.

Along with this, it has two white dorsal stripes. Moreover, its head is partly yellow and partly brown. Generally, this caterpillar can be seen feeding on various tree leaves, sometimes eating elm leaves.

Lastly, let’s discuss size. Despite its voracious appetite, this species remains relatively small, with the largest members measuring in at a mere 32 mm.

11. Cottonwood dagger moth caterpillars

Scientific name: Acronicta lepusculina

Acronicta lepusculina is a yellow caterpillar that can be easily found in the northern and northeastern US territories. You might be familiar with its name, cottonwood dagger moth caterpillar.

Moreover, talking about its color, this uncommon yellow caterpillar has bright white and yellow hairs.

Along with this, they have long yellow hairs covering the entire body. Also, they have a unique identity, which is a row of black tufts along their back. They like to feed on willow and oak leaves.

12. American Dagger Caterpillar

Scientific name: Acronicta americana

The American Dagger Caterpillar is a North American native species. Generally, it has an elongated body covered with long yellow hairs.

Further, their bright yellow hairs start to brighten as the caterpillar grows and may even turn completely white in its last instar. This caterpillar’s bright yellow-colored urtication hairs may cause skin irritation in humans.

Most of these yellow caterpillars like to live in woodlands and feed on various tree leaves.

In addition, this caterpillar is 50 mm long and completely covered in bright yellow or green bristles.

Along with this, they had four long bunches of black bristles extending from the body near the head and midsection, while a fifth bunch of extra-long, extra-long bristles came out near the rear.

13. Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars

Scientific name: Papilio troilus

If we are talking about yellow caterpillars, then how can we forget the cute yellow caterpillar? First, this Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillars are brown caterpillars that turn yellow in their later instars.

Do you want to know where they hide? So let us tell you that they roll up leaves, hide in folded leaves, and feed in the evenings. And the most interesting fact about them is that they mimic a snake’s head with large spots on the thorax.

Before pupating, the caterpillar changes color to orange or yellow, with the chrysalis being brown or green. Also, its pupa’s color also changes depending on the season, with brown pupas in winter and yellow ones in summer.

This caterpillar looks cute to us, but its yellow color and large eyespots serve as warning signs to predators.

14. Cloudless sulfur caterpillar

Scientific name: Phoebis sennae

Cloudless sulfur caterpillars are nocturnal insects, also known as Phoebis sennae. Considering its color, it has bright yellow to green stripes. Along with stripes, it has dark dots across their backs.

Mostly, these caterpillars are commonly seen on host plants like partridge peas, clovers, and other legumes. Moreover, this caterpillar’s color richens as it grows.

Last but not least, taking into account its length, this caterpillar’s final size depends on its feeding habits and food availability. The caterpillars can reach a size of 45 mm.

15. Spotted Apatelodes moth caterpillar

Scientific name: Apatelodes torrefacta

Coming to the next yellow caterpillar, this Spotted Apatelodes moth caterpillar has a vivid yellow color. Along with its yellow body, it has a few tiny brown spots and stripes on its dorsal side.

You can easily find this caterpillar species living on Eastern North America’s common trees. You know how they can be identified because their long yellow hairs cover this fuzzy caterpillar, making it easy to spot on trees.

The trees they like to live in are oak leaves, maple, ash, cherry, and plum trees. The adult caterpillar can reach a length of 42 mm.

However, they do not carry their yellow color into adulthood. Rather, their color changes to gray, dark brown, and black.

16. Zebra Caterpillars

Scientific name: Melanchra picta

Zebra caterpillars are known for their yellow coloration. They have a multicolored body with black and yellow stripes joined by fine white lines. Generally, the larvae are whitish and marked by dark heads and spots.

Moreover, you can see that the mature caterpillars are bright and conspicuous, with prominent black and light yellow longitudinal stripes.

Also, the underside and legs are light red-brown or yellow. The head is reddish or reddish-brown and without dark arcs or reticulations.

Speaking about their ideal length, You can find that the maximum length of the larvae can go from 35 to 40 mm when they are fully mature.

17. Calico Paint Caterpillar

Scientific name: Cucullia convexipennis

The Calico paint caterpillar is known as Cucullia convexipennis. This beautiful and cute caterpillar has vivid colors. You might find it interesting that this caterpillar has an amazing color combination and pattern throughout the back.

Moreover, this uncommon yellow caterpillar has a combination of black, yellow, red, and white lines running through the back.

Along with this, the red line follows near the legs of the caterpillar. The more interesting fact about this caterpillar is that it has glossy and shiny skin.

18. Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Caterpillar

Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Caterpillar
Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Caterpillar | Credit: Shaina Noggle of Goth Moths (commons.wikimedia) CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific name: Harrisina americana

The Grapeleaf Skeletonizer larva is a cigar-shaped yellow caterpillar with black spots or stripes around its segments. It measures up to 0.59” (15 mm) long and has tufts of irritating hair that can cause skin rashes.

Although not classified as dangerous, the caterpillars feed on grape plants and can defoliate them. The black-spotted yellow caterpillars are the only species that target grape plants.

The caterpillar’s body is yellow with black bands or spots on the back. This species eats wild grapes and Virginia creepers, making them difficult to spot.

19. Monarch caterpillar

Scientific name: Danaus plexippus

The monarch caterpillar is a species commonly found in forests, fields, and gardens. Primarily, they like to feed on milkweed plants.

Talking about the color variation, this uncommon yellow caterpillar has yellow, black, and white stripes on its body.

Moreover, this uncommon yellow caterpillar can be found in North America. Along with this, the caterpillar, after maturing, turns into a monarch butterfly, which has a striking appearance.

20. Six-spot burnet caterpillar

Scientific name:  Zygaena filipendulae

The six-spot burnet caterpillar is a plump yellow moth with a bright yellow body and black markings. Its bright colors ward off predators and produce poisonous cyanide if eaten.

The moth’s common name comes from the three pairs of red spots on its black wings. It is small, with wingspans of only 1.6″ (4 cm) across.

The six-spotted burnet caterpillar is identified by its bright yellow body and black markings along its back, a light green stripe on its sides, and thin, spiny hairs.

21. Cinnabar moth caterpillar

Scientific name: Tyria jacobaeae

Cinnabar caterpillars, initially pale yellow, later develop a jet-black and orange or yellow-striped coloration. They can grow up to 30 mm (1.2 in) long and are voracious eaters, causing large populations to strip entire patches of ragwort clean.

The cinnabar moth larva is a striking yellow caterpillar with glossy black bands and a sparse covering of fine spines. Some species can be orange or black.

The yellow caterpillars absorb toxic substances, making them poisonous to most birds, except cuckoos, which eat hairy and toxic caterpillars.

After emerging from the pupa, the striped yellow and black cinnabar moth caterpillar becomes a stunning moth with pinkish-red and charcoal-black wings.

22. Large Cabbage White Caterpillar

Scientific name: Pieris brassicae

The next one is Large cabbage white larvae also known as Pieris brassicae. Do you know this caterpillar undergoes four moulting processes and five instars?

During its first instar, the caterpillar has a light yellow color with distinctive brown heads and soft bodies. Also, they appear hairy, with black hair covering their tubercles.

Later, in its second instar, it is marked by more activity, with yellow and black dots on its tubercles. Further, this caterpillar, in its third instar stage, is marked by seed-voracious eating and significant damage to the host plant.

Then, the fourth instar is similar but with more aggressive size and feeding behavior.

Lastly, the fifth instar is yellow, robust, and elongated, with bright coloration on the abdomen and thorax. The larvae have a gray and black head, requiring maximum food quality and quantity for full development.

23. African death’s-head hawkmoth caterpillar

Scientific name: Acherontia atropos

The African death’s-head hawkmoth larva is a giant yellow caterpillar that resembles a yellow tobacco hornworm. It has distinctive diagonal grayish stripes, black speckles on its back, and six tiny legs at its head.

The yellow caterpillar’s posterior horn is covered in projections and can curl around and point upward. It grows to 6″ long and is harmless to humans but can damage plants.

After pupating, it turns into a brown and yellow moth, named after its skull-shaped pattern near its head. The caterpillar is sturdy and variable in color, with seven diagonal blue lines and a curved thorn-like horn at the rear.

The pupa is stout and reddish-brown and forms 8 to 10 inches under the ground in a chamber similar to a large hen’s egg.

24. Mullein moth caterpillar

Scientific name: Cucullia verbasci 

This uncommon yellow caterpillar has a bright color combination. These caterpillars like to feed on mullein, figwort, and buddleia leaves.

Talking about the length of these pale gray larvae, they can grow up to 50 mm in length and are fully grown after 30 days.

Along with this, the mullein moth caterpillar has a distinctive yellow and black pattern, with some species appearing more yellow than bluish-gray. Moreover, its black head, prolegs, front legs, and fine setae make it easy to identify.

25. White-marked tussock caterpillar

Scientific name: Orgyia leucostigma

Last but not least, the white-marked tussock caterpillar is a brightly colored insect with yellow stripes along its black body. Moreover, its larvae are brightly colored, with tufts of hair-like setae, bright red spots, and long pencil hairs protruding from either end.

Do you know this caterpillar can grow up to 35 mm? Primarily, these yellow caterpillars like to feed on deciduous and coniferous trees, such as maple, birch, basswood, sycamore, apple, and elm.

You can easily find these caterpillars in the eastern United States and as far west as Texas. However, their urticating hairs can cause allergic skin reactions in humans.

26. Fall webworm 

Scientific name: Hyphantria cunea

Yellow caterpillars have a highly variable coloration, ranging from pale yellow to dark grey, with yellow spots and long and short bristles. They have two cream stripes along the sides and two races, one more common in the north and the other in the south. The maximum length of larvae is 35 mm. Webs are progressively enlarged and messier than tent caterpillars, which have shorter hairs and little yellow on their bodies. Larvae feed inside tents until late instars, and wiggle vigorously at periodic intervals in synchrony.

27. Queens caterpillar

Scientific name: Danaus gilippus

The mature queen caterpillar, similar to the monarch caterpillar, is darker and less brightly colored. It has three pairs of black, fleshy tentacles and is bluish-white dorsally. When mature, it is brown with purplish prolegs and has color variants of transverse stripes in blue, green, yellow, white, and blackish brown. The caterpillar lacks spines and has no hair on its body.

28. Catalpa Sphinx caterpillar 

Scientific name: Ceratomia catalpae

Ceratomia catalpae, also known as the catalpa sphinx, is a hawk moth in the Sphingidae family. Its larval stage is the catalpa or catawba worm, with pale, dark, yellow caterpillars with black stripes and dots. They grow to 5 cm and feed on the leaves of northern catalpa and southern catalpa, also known as catawba or Indian bean trees. These caterpillars are highly sought after by fishermen as bait.

29. Smeared dagger moth caterpillar 

Scientific name: Acronicta oblinita

The smeared dagger moth, Acronicta oblinita, is a moth in the Noctuidae family with a larva, the smartweed caterpillar, with urticating hairs. The larva, up to 4 cm long, has numerous tufts of setae on wart-like protuberances and bright yellow blotches in the shape of carets between spiracles.

30. Yellow-spotted tussock moth caterpillars

Scientific name: Lophocampa maculata

Spotted tussock moth caterpillars, also known as “yellow wooly bears,” have a fuzzy appearance resembling tussock grass. Late instar caterpillars, about 40 mm long, have a thick orange or yellow band of hair in the middle of their bodies, black hairs covering each end, and white tufts jutting from the black patches. Early instars have less pronounced black bands, with yellow, orange, or white hairs and small black spots along sides.


Here are a few yellow caterpillars that captivate with their stunning beauty. Moreover, you can readily come across these delightful caterpillars in your local parks and open spaces.

That’s all for today, but we’ll return shortly with another intriguing fact. Until then, continue your quest for more fascinating insights into the animal kingdom at HowItSee.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnabar_moth
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pieris_brassicae
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acherontia_atropos
  • https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/home-garden/gardening/wildlife/moths/mullein-moth-and-flower

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