7 Fascinating Caterpillar Facts You Should Know

Updated: May 26, 2023

There's more to caterpillars than you know. Dig into cool caterpillar facts to learn about about these amazing backyard crawlers.

Caterpillars Have Lots of Muscles

sphinx moth caterpillarCourtesy Daniella Meyer
Tomato hornworm caterpillars can cause damage to vegetable gardens

Humans have about 600 muscles. Caterpillars have as many as 4,000, with 248 in their heads alone. Meet 8 crazy cool caterpillars you could find in your backyard.

Caterpillars Can Grow Bigger Than You Think

A,hickory,horned,devil,caterpillar,is,crawling,on,a,groupShutterstock / Cathy Keifer
Hickory horned devil caterpillar on walnuts

Hickory horned devil caterpillars (Citheronia regalis) grow up to 5 1/2 inches long, making them among the world’s largest.

Do Caterpillars Eat Snails?

This one of our caterpillar facts might make you love them more. Hyposmocoma molluscivora, a Hawaiian moth, is the only species whose caterpillars are known to eat snails. They crawl inside the shells and eat the snails alive.

Once you finish reading these caterpillar facts, learn surprising snail facts you should know.

Do Caterpillars Have Legs?

Caterpillar,of,spurge,hawk,moth,(hyles,euphorbiae),isolated,on,whiteShutterstock / xpixel
Spurge hawk moth caterpillar

Caterpillars have six true legs, found toward the front on the thorax. The other appendages are known as prolegs, and have suction cups called crotchets that cling tightly to surfaces.

What does a monarch caterpillar and chrysalis look like?

Skilled Silk Weavers

Shutterstock 394721446thomascanss/Shutterstock
Luna moth caterpillar

Silkworm moth caterpillars (Bombyx mori) produce unbroken silk threads up to 1,000 yards long to form their cocoons.

Find out what a milkweed tussock moth and caterpillar looks like.

One Caterpillar Has a Very Long Life Span

The Arctic woolly bear moth spends up to seven years as a caterpillar, eating for just a few days each summer.

Take our quiz to see how many types of caterpillars you can you identify.

A Popular Backyard Tree Is a Favorite Caterpillar Host Plant

Plant an oak tree in your yard if you want to see more caterpillars. Oak leaves are the favored food of more than 500 species of caterpillars in the U.S. Grow more host plants to attract caterpillars.