10 largest caterpillars on the planet

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Caterpillars are creatures that dislike most people, although they do not pose a particular danger to them. The whole point is far from the most pleasant appearance of insects. Although there are quite unusual, entertaining specimens among them. Today we will focus on the largest of them. When choosing the participants in the rating, our experts were guided, first of all, by the size of butterflies, which are obtained from caterpillars that have passed the cocoon stage. Further – the most impressive representatives among their own kind.

Giants of the insect world: top 10 largest caterpillars on the planet

Nomination a place name rating
10 largest caterpillars on the planet 10 Moths 4.1
9 Wine hawk 4.2
8 Odorous woodworm 4.3
7 Large peacock eye 4.4
6 Lime hawk 4.5
5 Swallowtail 4.6
4 Kaya dipper 4.7
3 Harpy big 4.8
2 Peacock eye atlas 4.9
1 Royal nut moth (royal moth) 5.0


Rating: 4.1


One of the most common caterpillar in Russian latitudes can hardly be called the largest on the planet, but one of the longest for sure. The elongated body, coupled with undeveloped false legs located in the front part of the abdomen, caused a peculiar movement of the caterpillar: often moths are called 'surveyors' because of the passage of space like a survey chain (span). Most species of moths are considered pests: they can cause significant damage to fruit trees over a large area.

Interesting fact. Moths are one of the largest families among butterflies: it unites over 2000 genera and 23000 species.

The majority of moth species are considered pests due to their 'weakness' for agricultural plants and fruit trees. The largest 'gluttons', widespread in Russia and Europe, are considered to be the pine, winter moth, and the gooseberry was also stripped.

The moth is a master of disguise: it is quite difficult to notice it among the branches of trees, sometimes it is even mistaken for a branch. It's all about the specifics of the color of the caterpillar – it practically merges with the color of the tree bark and, in addition, is completely devoid of hairs. The moth has an interesting feature: in case of danger, the caterpillar can freeze for a long time, stretching its body in a straight line at certain angles upwards. This is possible due to the highly developed muscles. At such moments, it is very similar to an ordinary dry twig.

Wine hawk

Rating: 4.2

Wine hawk

This imposing caterpillar prefers to inhabit grape leaves from mid-June to August, after which it enters the pupal stage. Wine hawthorn can reach 5 cm in length, the color varies from light green to various brown shades. But in some parts of our planet, there is also a pitch-black wine hawk.

Due to its bright color and unusual symmetrical spots, similar in shape to the eyes, the wine hawk cannot be confused with another caterpillar. At the end of the hawk moth's body there is a horn-like growth. The diet of this unusual giant is dominated by ivan tea, grape leaves, less often – flowers of plants from the balsamic family.

It is worth noting that the hawk moth has a moderate appetite: since the caterpillar does not eat many leaves, the plants after its invasion receive minor damage (which, by the way, cannot be said about another representative of the hawk moth – tobacco – it causes significant harm to tobacco and tomato plantations).

Odorous woodworm

Rating: 4.3

Odorous woodworm

The xylophagous caterpillar, widespread in Russia, which feeds mainly on wood and prefers poplars and willows, is sometimes found on fruit trees. It is considered a pest because it causes significant damage to bark and stem wood. Although often woodworm settles on old, even diseased trees and hibernate right in their trunks.

The caterpillar has a bright pink color. At a later stage of development, the insect changes its appearance, acquiring a yellowish-red color with a dark (purple-like) tint on the back, the head is black. The fragrant woodworm reaches a length of 8-12 cm. In the Moscow region, for example, a specimen about 9 cm long was found. And, although this caterpillar is not the largest representative of the species, it is a real record for such latitudes.

Large peacock eye

Rating: 4.4

Large peacock eye

The peacock eye is a very beautiful medium-sized butterfly, but, being a caterpillar, it has a rather impressive, perhaps even formidable appearance. The caterpillar of a large peacock's eye is rather large (up to 10 cm long) and bright green in color.

Along the entire length, the body of the caterpillar is covered with clavate hairs, thickened at the ends. It looks very unusual and it is difficult not to notice such an insect. But in the cultural landscape, a large peacock's eye is quite rare, because it prefers to feed on low-value plants, which people often get rid of. Although sometimes the caterpillar of a large peacock's eye can be found on fruit trees or walnuts.

Despite the large number in protected and remote places from human habitation, the insect needs protection. To increase the butterfly population, it is enough to leave intact thickets of nettles and burdocks in meadows and near fields (especially since these plants are not considered pests) and not offend its caterpillars, although they can hardly be called cute.

Lime hawk

Rating: 4.5

Lime hawk

Based on the name, it immediately becomes clear that linden trees are a clear favorite for this caterpillar. Nevertheless, the hawk maker appreciates variety in its diet and often visits alder, birch or elm to feast on their leaves, sometimes it is also found on fruit trees. The lime hawk moth is found in Europe (almost everywhere), in the Middle East, in Asia Minor, in the Caucasus, etc.

The caterpillar grows up to 6 cm in length, has a light green color, oblique red stripes run along the entire body length (along the sides), yellow stripes are clearly visible on the insect's abdomen. But before pupation, the linden hawk moth changes its color to brownish and hibernates not on a tree, like most other caterpillars, but in the ground. By the way, the hawk moth is an excellent master of disguise, preferring to bury itself in foliage: often it can only be found when it descends to the ground to pupate.

Interesting fact. One of the related species of the linden hawk is the so-called 'dead head' hawk. And the name of the butterfly speaks for itself: on the upper side of the body there is a yellowish image, similar to a skull. In some countries, the butterfly is called the Adam's head. For a long time in European countries, the butterfly was considered a harbinger of death.


Rating: 4.6


The caterpillar of this beautiful, large butterfly is just as large and, even quite beautiful for a caterpillar. The area of ​​its distribution is quite wide: the swallowtail can be found both in Eurasia and in the African, American expanses (in the northern parts of the continents). Caterpillar development is divided into 2 stages. During the first (May-June), the caterpillar spends all its time in bird droppings, where it successfully hides from numerous predatory enemies. During this period of her life her body is black with evenly spaced red 'warts' and a white spot on her head.

During the second stage (August-September) the caterpillar reaches its maximum size, the 'warts' disappear, the color becomes rather unusual: the body becomes green with evenly distributed transverse black stripes. Each strip has several bright orange specks.

Nature has provided the insect with an effective defense mechanism: it is an organ of osmeteria, consisting of constantly contracting fleshy processes located in the head region. In case of danger, these processes emit a liquid with a pungent, unpleasant odor.

Kaya dipper

Rating: 4.7

Kaya dipper

This incredible night beauty is considered a polyphagus, which implies a varied diet: it often eats not only the foliage of fruit and wild trees, but also the inflorescences, leaves of berry bushes. Kaya stays in the caterpillar stage for quite a long time (from September to May) and hibernates without pupating.

The insect has an unusual appearance: its body is black on top and orange underneath, covered with a dense row of long gray hairs resembling thorns. Such a menacing appearance allows the caterpillar to effectively scare off numerous enemies. Although, in reality, the kaya bear is a shy and practically harmless creature.

Why practically? Because the caterpillar, after all, carries some threat: the fact is that there is poison on the tips of its hairs that can cause a strong allergic reaction (when it gets into the eyes, it causes conjunctivitis). In case of danger, the insect quickly falls from the tree, curling up in a ball, and pretends to be dead.

Harpy big

Rating: 4.8

Harpy big

In the world invisibly there is a nondescript moth of a whitish hue, which is completely unremarkable. What can not be said about its caterpillar: it is considered one of the most unusual on the planet. The body of the insect, reaching a length of 6 cm, has a bright green color – excellent camouflage, the back is decorated with a kind of purple rhombus. The brown head seems to be pulled inward, so a rather unusual look is created.

It becomes even more unusual when the caterpillar, in case of danger, menacingly inflates the front part of the body, as if protruding a large red 'mouth'. In this case, the back of the body, complemented by two long processes, also rises above. And the red tips of these processes begin to move menacingly, like stings. Of course, there is no sting there, but the caterpillar produces the desired effect on natural enemies.

Peacock eye atlas

Rating: 4.9

Peacock eye atlas

The Atlas Peacock Eye is one of the largest butterflies on the planet and its caterpillar is also impressive in its size. An adult insect reaches 10 cm in length, and the thickness is also quite impressive. The thick body is bluish-green in color and completely covered with fleshy outgrowths to match the body color. Above and from the sides, the body of the caterpillar is covered with a white waxy coating.

Peacock-eye atlas prefers to live on trees and shrubs, lives (unlike most other species of caterpillars) exclusively alone. The insect can be found in tropical forests in southeast Asia (in artificial conditions, it willingly eats poplar, oak and lilac leaves). It is not a pest. Pupation of the atlas peacock eye occurs in a huge gray-brown cocoon attached to a leaf.

The peacock eye atlas is of great importance for humans: it is actively used in economic life. For example, in India, the species is widely cultivated for silk production. But the resulting product is significantly different from what the silkworm gives the world: the silk that the satin peacock-eye gives off is brown in color and has a strong, woolly structure. This is the so-called phage silk. It is not uncommon for Taiwanese to use the empty satin peacock eye cocoons as sturdy and comfortable wallets.

Royal nut moth (royal moth)

Rating: 5.0

Royal nut moth

The life cycle of this moth is typical for its species: for pupation, the caterpillar is not wrapped in a cocoon, but buries itself in the ground to move on to the next stage of its life in the created clay chamber. The caterpillar of this insect is considered a nocturnal solitary in the first stage of its life (in the daytime it curls up in the shape of the letter 'c' and merges with the terrain, resembling two-colored bird droppings).

In subsequent phases, the caterpillar feeds quietly throughout the day, molting 4 times during this period. It has a powerful, thick body, reaching a length of 15 cm, the color is bluish-green. Each segment of the body is covered with a frightening-looking thorns, in the head region several formidable 'horns' are formed at once: long red-black processes that give a completely frightening look.

It was because of him that the caterpillar received an equally frightening Latin name ('horned devil hickory'). In fact, the royal moth caterpillar is completely harmless: its external bravado is just a trick. The thorns on the body, although sharp, do not burn.

The insect forms throughout the summer, and by the end of the summer season a beautiful butterfly of impressive size hatches from the cocoon, which does not eat throughout its short life, but it lives as an adult for no longer than a week.

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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