Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

See Moth submissions from National Moth Week 2023

Photos of insects and people from the 2022 BugGuide gathering in New Mexico, July 20-24

Photos of insects and people from the Spring 2021 gathering in Louisiana, April 28-May 2

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Photos of insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Previous events



Parts of a Caterpillar Monarch - Danaus plexippus Black Swallowtail Caterpillar - Papilio polyxenes Flannel Moth - Megalopyge opercularis Euclea delphinii - Euclea Spotted Tussock Moth caterpillar. - Lophocampa maculata Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar - Euchaetes egle Monkey Slug (Hag Moth Larva) - Phobetron pithecium Curve-lined Owlet Caterpillar - Phyprosopus callitrichoides
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
No Taxon (Glossary)
No Taxon (C)
No Taxon caterpillar
Explanation of Names
Caterpillar has a fascinating etymology. According to Jardine, the English word is apparently a combination (by folk etymology) of cates, food (archaic English meaning choice food, or delicacies, from French acater to buy), and French piller, to rob. The original Old French word was chattepeleuse, a hairy cat. The French word is from Latin cattus cat, plus pilosus hairy (1). (Partridge, in Origins--A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, gives the Old French as cate plue, variant catepelose.)
caterpillar noun, plural caterpillars - the larval stage of butterflies and moths (order Lepidoptera).
Print References
Gordh, A Dictionary of Entomology, p. 170 (1)
Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (1913), available here--meaning of cates
Works Cited
1.A Dictionary of Entomology
George Gordh, David H. Headrick. 2003. CABI Publishing.