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caterpillar(kăt`əpĭl'ər, kăt`ər–), common name for the larvalarva,
independent, immature animal that undergoes a profound change, or metamorphosis, to assume the typical adult form. Larvae occur in almost all of the animal phyla; because most are tiny or microscopic, they are rarely seen. They play diverse roles in the lives of animals.
..... Click the link for more information. of a mothmoth,
any of the large and varied group of insects which, along with the butterflies, make up the order Lepidoptera. The moths comprise the great majority of the 100,000 species of the order, and about 70 of its 80 families.
..... Click the link for more information. or butterflybutterfly,
any of a large group of insects found throughout most of the world; with the moths, they comprise the order Lepidoptera. There are about 12 families of butterflies. Most adult moths and butterflies feed on nectar sucked from flowers.
..... Click the link for more information. . Caterpillars have distinct heads and are segmented and wormlike. They have three pairs of short, jointed legs (retained in the adult) on the thorax; in addition, they have unjointed, fleshy appendages, called prolegs, on some abdominal segments. The prolegs end in clusters of tiny hooks. There is a row of simple eyes on either side of the body. Sawfly larvae are often mistaken for caterpillars, but their prolegs have no hooks and they have a single simple eye on each side. Almost all caterpillars are vegetarian and have strong jaws for chewing. The chewing mouth parts and the prolegs disappear during the pupapupa
, name for the third stage in the life of an insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis, i.e., develops from the egg through the larva and the pupa stages to the adult.
..... Click the link for more information. stage, as the larva is transformed into an adult. Caterpillars have silk glands that open into a mouth part called the spinneret. The caterpillar exudes a silk strand continuously as it moves along; small caterpillars swing by the strand when dropping from a height. Many caterpillars use the thread to build a cocoon in which to pupate. Most molt their skin (to accommodate growth) five or six times before pupation. Some caterpillars have smooth skin; others are hairy, such as the woolly bear, or hedgehog, caterpillar of the Isabella tiger moth. The caterpillars of the larger night-flying moths (e.g., the luna moth and polyphemus moth) are smooth and green and may be over 3 in. (7.5 cm) long. Caterpillars are equipped with various protective devices. The io moth caterpillar has sharp spines connected with glands that secrete an irritating substance. Others have irritating bristles, and the swallowtail butterfly larva emits a repellent odor when disturbed. Nevertheless, caterpillars form the major part of the diet of many birds and other animals. Caterpillars are voracious eaters and some cause considerable economic damage. Among these are the appleworm, the cutwormcutworm,
name for the larvae of many moths of the family Noctuidae (owlet moths). These larvae, or caterpillars, feed at night on the stems and roots of young plants, often cutting them off near the surface of the ground. They hide in soil by day.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the larvae of the bee mothbee moth,
greater wax moth,
or honeycomb moth,
common name for an insect pest of honeycombs. Bee moths do damage during their larval stages, injuring combs and honey.
..... Click the link for more information. , the codling mothcodling moth
, small moth, Carpocapsa pomonella, whose larva is the destructive apple worm. Of European origin, it is now found wherever apples are grown. The adult moth is gray with brown markings and has a wingspan of about 3-4 in. (1.8 cm). The 3-4-in.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the clothes mothclothes moth,
name for several species of moths of the family Tineidae, whose larvae feed on wool, furs, feathers, upholstery, and a variety of animal products. Clothes moths are of Old World origin.
..... Click the link for more information. . Some moths and butterflies remain caterpillars for two or three months, others for about 10 months, hibernating through the winter in this stage. In the Arctic are some forms that require two or three years to develop from egg to adult.
the larval form of the butterfly.
The caterpillar feeds intensively, storing nutritive material for its subsequent development. After numerous moltings accompanying its growth, the caterpiller is transformed into a chrysalis. Caterpillars are principally phytophagous. More rarely, they eat wool, wax, and horny matter; there are predators and parasites as well. The body is vermiform and the mouth parts are adapted to nibbling. In addition to the three pairs of thoracic legs there are as many as eight pairs of “false” legs. Tubular spinning, or silk-secreting, glands, which open through a canal on the labium, are characteristic of the caterpillar. Upon contact with the air, these glandular secretions form a silk thread that is used in the construction of a cocoon, cementing leaves in the form of a little house, or in the preparation of a protective web. Some caterpillars live in the open and others live concealed. Some live in communities and build special nests, entwining the branches and leaves of trees with web. Processionary moths effect mass migrations in their search for food. Caterpillars that live in the open usually have a shape and color that harmonizes with their background (cryptic), some have bright coloration that demonstrates that they are inedible, and some strike a threatening pose in moments of danger. Pseudocaterpillars (for example, the sawflies) are distinguished from true caterpillars, having false legs on nine to 11 segments. More than 1,000 species of butterflies have been recorded in the USSR; their caterpillars damage field, orchard, and forest plants. The cocoons of the Chinese silkworm, the lappet moth, and several other silkworms yield valuable textile raw material; their breeding is an important branch of agriculture.