30 Types Of Yellow & Black Caterpillars With Pictures And Fun Facts

Caterpillars come in a variety of colors and shades. And a surprisingly large number of caterpillars are black and yellow. So, identifying a yellow and black caterpillar that you came across in the wild or saw munching on some leaves in your backyard is no easy feat. However, if you know what to look for, it is easy, and we are here to help!

black and yellow caterpillars

Photo Credit Police car moth caterpillars have black barbs that penetrate the skin, dig in, and deliver stinging toxins.

Yellow and black caterpillars are larvae of butterflies and moths. They can either be small and skinny or large and furry. Furthermore, some black and yellow caterpillars have spines, barbs, and colored spots on their bodies. So, when identifying a caterpillar, you must pay close attention to its size, body features (shape, size, and pattern of spots on the body), and sometimes even its behavior and habitat.

Nevertheless, let’s move on to the list and give you what you came for.

RELATED: What Do Caterpillars Eat? Top 3 Host Plants You Must Know!

Types Of Black And Yellow Caterpillars

1. Red Admiral Butterfly Caterpillar

Red Admiral Butterfly Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: their primary hosts are stinging nettles, and the spines on their bodies are sensory organs called “setae.”

Quick Facts

Scientific NameVanessa atalanta
Other NamesRed Admiral Butterfly caterpillar, Atalanta Butterfly caterpillar
Length4-5 cm / 1.6-2 inches
Width1 cm / 0.4 inches
Host PlantsNettles, false nettles, pellitory
DistributionNorth America, Europe, Asia, Africa
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest to some crops, but not a significant threat

Description & Identification Guide

Variable in color, ranging from yellow and black to full black, the red admiral butterfly caterpillar usually eats bird droppings, tree sap, and rotting fruit. However, they will also much on flowers and drink the nectar if given a chance. Each red admiral butterfly caterpillar makes many shelters (tent-shaped covers made out of leaves) during its lifetime and discards the old ones, which can be used to pinpoint the caterpillar’s location.

2. Neighbor Moth Caterpillar

Neighbor Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: Neighbor Moth Caterpillars have only one generation per year.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHaploa contigua
Other NamesContiguous Tiger Moth
Length (cm/inches)3.5-5 cm / 1.4-2 inches
Width (cm/inches)1.2-2.5 cm / 0.5-1 inch
Host PlantsVarious plants, including asters, daisies, and goldenrods
DistributionEastern and central North America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageGenerally not considered a pest.

Description & Identification Guide

Unlike the red admiral butterfly caterpillar with faint yellow spots on its black body, the larva (caterpillar) of the neighbor moth caterpillar has broad and bright yellow stripes along both sides of the body, making spotting them pretty straightforward.

Neighbor moth caterpillars also have tufts of short, sharp bristles like tent caterpillars, but they don’t make tents. After their first feeding frenzy, which ends with the caterpillars overwintering, they remerge, feed on many other plants, and then pupate.

3. Virginia Ctenucha Caterpillar

Virginia Ctenucha Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: They pupate in cocoons they make using their hairs, and when disturbed, they curl up in a ball.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameCtenucha virginica
Other NamesVirginia Ctenuchid Moth Caterpillar
Length3.5-5 cm / 1.4-2 inches
Width1.2-1.5 cm / 0.5-0.6 inches
Host PlantsVarious types of grass, sedges, and rushes
DistributionEastern and central United States
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageLarvae can feed on grasses and sedges

Description & Identification Guide

With tufts of spine-like hairs covering the body and bright warning coloration, everything about this caterpillar says, “do not come near me, or I will mess you up.” However, looks can be deceiving, and Virginia Ctenucha Caterpillar is a good example. The caterpillar is not dangerous to humans or other animals and can be handled if seen.

4. Toadflax Moth Caterpillar

Toadflax Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: When threatened, the caterpillar emits a chemical to deter predators.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameCalophasia lunula
Other NamesToadflax Brocade, Snapdragon Moth Caterpillar
Length3-4 cm / 1.2-1.6 inches
Width0.8-1 cm / 0.3-0.4 inches
Host PlantsToadflax (Linaria spp.) and snapdragons (Antirrhinum spp.)
DistributionEurope and North America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageLarvae may feed on the leaves and flowers of host plants.

Description & Identification Guide

These caterpillars are easy to identify thanks to their distinctive color and body patterns. The body is purplish. However, purple fades away as the caterpillars mature, and the black and yellow markings on their bodies become more apparent. Toadflax moth caterpillars undergo five molts in one month when growing and feeding. Nevertheless, once the caterpillar reaches the size of 4 cm, it pupates over the winter and emerges as a moth.

5. Buff-Tip Moth Caterpillar

Buff-Tip Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: Buff-Tip Moth confuses predators by making its wings resemble broken twigs.

Quick Facts

Scientific NamePhalera bucephala
Other NamesBuff-Tip Moth Caterpillar, Buff Ermine Caterpillar, Ochreous Buff Caterpillar
LengthUp to 6 cm (2.4 in)
WidthUp to 2 cm (0.8 in)
Host PlantsVarious deciduous trees, including birch, oak, and hazel
DistributionEurope, Asia, North Africa
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest due to defoliation of host plants

Description & Identification Guide

Buff-Tip Moth Caterpillars have a tube-like body and distinct orange, yellow and black spots covering their entire, soft, and delicate bodies. Unlike many other yellow and black caterpillars, Buff-Tip moth caterpillars do not form a nest. However, they do live socially when young. These caterpillars can be seen from July to early October before they pupae underground. Their large congregations and large hairy and fuzzy bodies make their identification easier and can help detain an outbreak in its early stages.

6. Grass Eggar Moth Caterpillar

Grass Eggar Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The hairs on the caterpillar can cause skin irritation in humans who handle them.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameLasiocampa trifolii
Other NamesGrass Eggar Moth Larva, Trefoil Dart Caterpillar
LengthUp to 6 cm (2.4 in)
WidthUp to 2 cm (0.8 in)
Host PlantsVarious types of grass, including common couch grass & sweet vernal grass
DistributionFound throughout Europe and parts of Asia
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageThey are considered minor pest

Description & Identification Guide

Grass Eggar Moth Caterpillar is an unusual caterpillar with a rounded head and an extremely fuzzy body. The body is fuzzy or wooly because it is entirely covered with fine yellow hair that might look cute but should not be touched as it can irritate the skin.

The caterpillars pupate in tough brown cocoons on the ground for a long time (about 8 to 10 weeks), and they can be seen from March to July feeding at night.

7. White-Lined Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

White-Lined Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The caterpillar has a unique defensive behavior: it raises its head while emitting a loud clicking noise.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHyles lineata
Other NamesWhite-lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hawk Moth Larva, Hummingbird Moth Larva
LengthUp to 8 cm (3.2 in)
WidthUp to 1.5 cm (0.6 in)
Host PlantsVarious plants, including tomato, grape, and primrose
DistributionFound throughout North, Central, and South America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageThey can defoliate crops sometimes.

Description & Identification Guide

The caterpillar of the Sphinx moth is a sizeable slug-like insect with brownish spots and small triangular black markings on its sides. However, this particular caterpillar can be hard to identify as its color varies. However, do not worry; you can still recognize it with its yellow or orange horn with a black tip. However, there is no need to be afraid. It is not a stinger.

RELATED: Black Caterpillar Types: How To Identify Common Species, Fun Facts And More!

8. Magpie Moth Caterpillar

Magpie Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The caterpillar’s striking striped pattern warns predators that it is poisonous and should not be eaten.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameAbraxas grossulariata
Other NamesMagpie Moth Larva, Currant Moth Caterpillar
LengthUp to 4 cm (1.6 in)
WidthUp to 1 cm (0.4 in)
Host PlantsCurrant and gooseberry bushes
DistributionFound throughout Europe and parts of Asia
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageThey are considered a pest.

Description & Identification Guide

Magpie moth can be seen from late August to the following June, overwintering on its food plants. It has an orange stripe at the base of its abdomen and broken black lateral bands along its body. Furthermore, the caterpillar’s body is sparsely covered with delicate black hair. And, if you still have difficulty identifying it, look towards its movement. The caterpillar loops as it moves over the foliage and stems of its host plants.

9. Cabbage White Caterpillar

Cabbage White Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The caterpillar can camouflage itself by changing color to match the plant it is on.

Quick Facts

Scientific NamePieris brassicae
Other NamesCabbage White Larva, Large White Caterpillar
LengthUp to 5 cm (2 in)
WidthUp to 1 cm (0.4 in)
Host PlantsVarious plants in the mustard family, including cabbage and broccoli
DistributionFound throughout Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageThey are considered a major pest.

Description & Identification Guide

These caterpillars’ bodies are filled with features and markings that can be used to identify them. For example, they have a yellow middorsal line, a yellow middorsal line, a black ring around the spiracles, and tiny black pints on an overall bluish-green body. You can even tell if they are present by looking for holes in the leaves of their host plants. Another interesting fact is that these caterpillars change body color as they mature. First, they are pale yellow, then dark yellow, and when they are about to pupate, they become somewhat greenish.

10. Lily Borer Caterpillar

Lily Borer Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The Lily Borer camouflages itself by covering its body with bits of the plant it feeds on.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameDiaphone eumela
Other NamesLily Moth Larva
LengthUp to 5 cm (2 in)
WidthAbout 1 cm (0.4 in)
Host PlantsLilium and Fritillaria species
DistributionFound in Asia and Europe
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest due to its ability to damage lilies

Description & Identification Guide

The caterpillar’s black spots resemble the markings on a leopard’s skin, giving it the nickname “Leopard Lily Borer.” It is a brightly colored yellow and black caterpillar with black and brown bands around each body segment. Some red dots are also on top of each segment, making identifying Lilly Borer Caterpillar easier. Also, like the white cabbage caterpillar, the lily borer caterpillar leaves tell-tale holes on its host plants.

11. Scarlet Tiger Moth Caterpillar

Scarlet Tiger Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: These caterpillars emit a foul-smelling liquid when they feel threatened, which deters predators.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameCallimorpha dominula
Other NamesScarlet Ermine, Spotted Tiger Moth
LengthUp to 4 cm (1.5 in)
WidthAbout 1 cm (0.4 in)
Host PlantsA variety of herbaceous plants and trees
DistributionFound throughout Europe and Asia
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest

Description & Identification Guide

These yellow and black caterpillars are pretty conspicuous in the daytime from March to May when they feed or rest in the sunlight on their host plants. Their predominantly black body is covered in large yellow and small white spots, which also have turf of short hair arising from them. Scarlet Tiger Moth Caterpillars complete their development in two sessions. They hatch in March, then overwinter and hatch again in March to enter pupation.

12. Amaryllis Borer Caterpillar

Amaryllis Borer Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: Its defensive secretion contains compounds that can be used in developing new drugs.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameBrithys crini
Other NamesAmaryllis Borer, Lily Borer, Hippeastrum Caterpillar
LengthUp to 5 cm (2 inches)
WidthUp to 0.6 cm (0.25 inches)
Host PlantsAmaryllis, Crinum, Hippeastrum, and other bulb plants
DistributionFound in North and South America
Dangerous or Not?It can be considered a pest to garden plants.
Pest Status & DamageThe caterpillars cause damage and can potentially kill the plant.

Description & Identification Guide

Amaryllis Borer Caterpillar has a cigar-shaped black body with pale yellow bands encircling each body segment. And, if you look closely, you can also see tiny black hair arising from its body. Another way you can tell if you are looking at an Amaryllis Borer Caterpillar is to check its head. If it has a pale yellow band, a black body, sparse black hair, and a reddish head, it is an Amaryllis Borer Caterpillar.

13. Alder moth Caterpillar

Alder moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: It has distinctive hair-like tufts on its body that give it a fuzzy, almost cute look.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameAcronicta alni
Other NamesAlder Moth, Alder Dagger Moth Caterpillar, Speckled Footman
LengthUp to 5 cm (2 inches)
WidthUp to 1 cm (0.4 inches)
Host PlantsAlder, Birch, Hazel, and other deciduous trees
DistributionFound in Europe, Asia, and North America
Dangerous or Not?Generally not dangerous to humans.
Pest Status & DamageThe caterpillars can defoliate trees

Description & Identification Guide

Although Alder moth Caterpillars are easy to identify, they are not seen very often, maybe because they tend to live well above eye level, feeding on the upper side of leaves. However, if you spot one, you can almost immediately recognize it. These caterpillars have club-shaped large setae, glossy black bodies, and bright yellow stripes. Still, you might have difficulty spotting young caterpillars as they are tiny and resemble bird droppings.

14. White Flannel Moth Caterpillar

White Flannel Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The White Flannel Caterpillar’s hairs conceal venomous spines that cause intense pain if touched.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameNorape ovina
Other NamesWhite Flannel Moth Caterpillar, Puss Caterpillar, Southern Flannel Moth
LengthUp to 4 cm (1.5 inches)
WidthUp to 2 cm (0.8 inches)
Host PlantsVarious trees and shrubs, including citrus and oak
DistributionFound in the southern United States, Central America, and South America
Dangerous or Not?Considered dangerous due to venomous spines
Pest Status & DamageIt can harm trees and cause skin irritation

Description & Identification Guide

White Flannel Moth Caterpillars are about one or two inches long when fully grown and have a few long, plumose setae. They also have seven pairs of prolegs, the fleshy, peglike legs along the abdominal segments. All other butterfly and moth caterpillars have five or fewer pairs. The yellow dots can quickly identify these caterpillars on their black ‘backs’ with centers of short, white, stinging, and venomous hair.

RELATED: Furry Caterpillar Types with An Identification Guide, Fun Facts, And Pictures

15. Fall Webworm

Fall Webworm

Photo Credit Fun Fact: Fall webworms are not harmful to humans; some people eat them as a source of protein.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHyphantria cunea
Other NamesThe eastern fall webworm, white hairy caterpillar, fall webworm moth
Length2.5-4 cm (1-1.5 inches)
Width4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches)
Host PlantsOver 600 species of trees and shrubs, including walnut, pecan, apple, and oak.
DistributionFound throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa.
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous but can cause the defoliation of host plants.
Pest Status & DamageIt feeds on the leaves of trees and can cause defoliation.

Description & Identification Guide

Even though we have included fall webworms in the yellow and black caterpillars list, these moth caterpillars are highly variable in color. Some are pale yellow, while others are dark grey. However, they all have yellow spots and long and short bristles. These caterpillars can build large silk tents that sometimes spread over several branches. So, you will have no problem if you ever try to find these on their preferred host plants.

16. Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The “smear” on the caterpillar’s back is a defense mechanism with chemicals that deter predators.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameAcronicta oblinita
Other NamesSmeared dagger, Acronicta dagger moth, Spotted green fruit worm
Length4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches)
Width1-2 cm (0.5-0.75 inches)
Host PlantsVarious deciduous trees and shrubs, including oak, maple, and birch.
DistributionFound throughout much of North America.
Dangerous or Not?It may cause skin irritation if handled, but not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest

Description & Identification Guide

Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar is also variable in color. However, it is primarily black. An average-sized caterpillar is about 4 inches long and has white breathing pores with a large, bright yellow, inverted V-shaped blotch between the spiracles. You can quickly identify Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar with its bristly black body, white markings on the back, and the characteristics of red spots and bright yellow longitudinal bands.

17. American Dagger Caterpillar

American Dagger Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: When threatened, it arches its back and displays bright red spots, making it look more intimidating.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameAcronicta americana
Other NamesAmerican dagger moth caterpillar
Length4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches)
Width1-2 cm (0.5-0.75 inches)
Host PlantsVarious deciduous trees and shrubs, including oak, maple, and birch.
DistributionFound throughout much of North America.
Dangerous or Not?It may cause skin irritation if handled, but not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest

Description & Identification Guide

American Dagger Caterpillar has a remarkable size and appearance, and its bristly stinging hair has a reputation for teaching children not to touch everything they see. Nevertheless, to identify these caterpillars, look for the black setae on the first and third abdominal segments. Also, the caterpillar’s body is yellow or pale and is covered densely with fluffy hair.

18. Redhumped Caterpillar

Redhumped Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: the hump on caterpillars contains a scent gland that can release a foul odor to deter predators.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameSchizura concinna
Other NamesRedhumped oak worm
Length5-6 cm <br> 2-2.5 inches
Width1-2 cm <br> 0.5-0.75 inches
Host PlantsVarious deciduous trees, including oak, maple, and hickory.
DistributionFound throughout much of North America.
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets but can cause skin irritation if handled.
Pest Status & DamageCan defoliate trees and shrubs.

Description & Identification Guide

These caterpillars have yellowish-orange bodies with lengthwise black and white stripes. However, their most noticeable feature is that red hump. Aside from that, these colorful caterpillars have darker shades of grey and are thus well camouflaged in woody places. Also, they usually appear in midsummer and eat the whole leaf, leaving only the midrib.

19. Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Caterpillar

Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The caterpillar can sequester toxins from its host plants, making it unpalatable to predators.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHarrisina americana
Other NamesGrape leaf skeletonizer
Length1.5-2 cm <br> 0.5-0.75 inches
Width0.3-0.5 cm <br> 0.1-0.2 inches
Host PlantsGrape and Virginia creeper plants.
DistributionFound throughout much of North America.
Dangerous or Not?If handled, it can cause skin irritation, and its hair can be harmful if ingested.
Pest Status & DamageDefoliate grape vines and other plants.

Description & Identification Guide

Grape leaf Skeletonizer Caterpillar has a primarily yellow and black body with white hair on the underside of the body. Small, black, and bristly hairs also emerge in clumps from each black band on its backside. Once hatched, the caterpillars feed for about 40 days on the host plants and then pupate for two weeks. Another fun fact about these caterpillars is that they move in a line from one plant to another when feeding.

RELATED: Types Of Green Caterpillars With Fun Facts, Stunning Pictures And Loads More!!!

20. Mullein Moth Caterpillar

Mullein Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The caterpillar curls up into a tight ball when disturbed, making it difficult for predators to attack.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameCucullia verbasci
Other NamesVerbascum moth, great mullein moth, woolly bear caterpillar
Length4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches)
Width1 cm (0.4 inches)
Host PlantsMullein (Verbascum spp.) and figwort (Scrophularia spp.)
DistributionFound throughout Europe and Asia, as well as in parts of North America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamagePest in gardens and agricultural areas

Description & Identification Guide

These brightly colored yellow and black caterpillars are easy to spot as they crawl across the leaves. And, since they are not harmful to the touch, they can be picked off by hand. The caterpillar’s body is whitish, with regular yellow patches and black dots. Once hatches, they eat for about 40 days and reach a size of about 5 cm. If you want to find this caterpillar, the best time to look for them is from July to August on their host plants.

21. Yellownecked caterpillar

Yellownecked caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: They form large clusters on host plants, often in large numbers, before moving to new feeding areas.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameDatana ministra
Other NamesYellow-necked apple worm moth, walnut caterpillar, Datana caterpillar
Length4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches)
Width1 cm (0.4 inches)
Host PlantsVarious deciduous trees, including apple, cherry, oak, and walnut
DistributionFound throughout North America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest in orchards and forests.

Description & Identification Guide

Yellow-necked caterpillar is green when it is young. However, as it ages, the body becomes orange and entirely yellow. The caterpillar also develops black and yellow stripes on the body as it matures, and its forelegs become red. You can also see a tuft of white, spiny hair from each body segment with a sensory function. When threatened, the caterpillar raises its front part and clings to the leaves or stems wit its abdominal segments.

22. Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: To avoid predators, these caterpillars mimic bird droppings in their early stages.

Quick Facts

Scientific NamePapilio polyxenes
Other NamesAmerican swallowtail, parsnip swallowtail, parsley worm
Length4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches)
Width1 cm (0.4 inches)
Host PlantsVarious plants in the Apiaceae family, including parsley, dill, fennel, and carrot
DistributionFound throughout North America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest in gardens and agricultural areas.

Description & Identification Guide

Although these caterpillars look primarily green, they have black and yellow body markings, which is why they are included in this list. These caterpillars also have another color which some people miss. They have a  “forked gland” called the osmeterium, which looks like a snake’s tongue and is present on the back of their heads. It is orange and everts and releases a foul smell when threatened to repel potential predators.

23. Brown-hooded Owlet

Brown-hooded Owlet

Photo Credit Fun Fact: It has a distinctive humpbacked appearance, which makes it look like a miniature camel.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameCucullia convexipennis
Other NamesCalico Paint caterpillar
Length3-4 cm (1.2-1.6 inches)
Width1-1.5 cm (0.4-0.6 inches)
Host PlantsVarious plants in the Asteraceae family, including sunflowers and asters
DistributionFound throughout North America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest in gardens and agricultural areas.

Description & Identification Guide

As you can tell by its name, The Calico Paint caterpillar, this moth larva has many features that can be used to identify it. For example, it has short yellow and white lines, with a horizontal red line along the bottom by the legs. Aside from that, a deep orange line is centered between yellow pinstripe lines that run down the ‘back.’ And lastly, it has a glossy black head with yellow lines and marks. So, identifying it is easy.

24. Yellow and Black Cinnabar Caterpillar

Yellow and Black Cinnabar Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: Yellow and Black Cinnabar Caterpillars are used as a biological control for ragworts in New Zealand.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameTyria jacobaeae
Other NamesCinnabar moth caterpillar
Length3-4 cm (1.2-1.6 inches)
Width0.5-1 cm (0.2-0.4 inches)
Host PlantsPoisonous plants in the genus Senecio, including ragwort and groundsel
DistributionFound throughout Europe, Asia, and parts of North America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest in some areas

Description & Identification Guide

The caterpillar’s bright colors warn predators not to eat them. And they are particularly fond of munching on ragwort plants. Talking about their appearance, they are jet black with yellow/orange stripes. You might also notice that thin hair-like black or white spines grow sparsely on its body. Another interesting fact about these caterpillars is that if they do not get enough food from host plants, they turn cannibalistic and eat other larvae.

25. Common Sheep Moth Caterpillar

Common Sheep Moth Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: It is dangerous to livestock and can cause “blister beetle poisoning” if ingested.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHemileuca eglanterina
Other NamesBuck moth caterpillar, sheep moth
Length4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches)
Width1 cm (0.4 inches)
Host PlantsVarious plants in the rose family, including blackberry and raspberry
DistributionFound throughout North America
Dangerous or Not?It can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in humans and pets.
Pest Status & DamageCaterpillars can defoliate and damage host plants

Description & Identification Guide

These caterpillars are black with a yellow-brown head, and their body is covered with off-white spines that become bright yellow or orange when they mature. These spines have many white and black branches. They are tipped with stiff quills that point sideways and upwards, forming a bristling defense system – a clear sign to stay away.

26. Black and Yellow Zebra Caterpillar

Black and Yellow Zebra Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: It gets its name from the bold black and yellow stripes that run down its body, resembling a zebra.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameMelanchra picta
Other NamesZebra caterpillar, yellow and black cutworm
Length4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches)
Width1 cm (0.4 inches)
Host PlantsVarious plants in the Asteraceae family, including sunflowers and daisies
DistributionFound throughout North America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageConsidered a pest in some areas.

Description & Identification Guide

If you see a yellow and black caterpillar resembling a zebra, it is a Black and Yellow Zebra Caterpillar. Easy! However, if that is not enough, let us give you a good identification guide. The Zebra Caterpillar often feeds on cabbages, beets, and other cultivated plants. It has black stripes around the segments, and its underside is somewhat reddish. Aside from that, the caterpillar has an overall pale yellow body with black, yellow, and white stripes.

27. Giant Sphinx Caterpillar

Giant Sphinx Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: When threatened, it will rear its head and emit a loud hissing sound, which startles the attacker.

Quick Facts

Scientific NamePseudosphinx tetrio
Other NamesTetrio Sphinx, Greater Sphinx
Length10-12 cm (4-5 inches)
Width2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 inches)
Host PlantsVarious plants in the nightshade family, including tomato and tobacco
DistributionFound throughout Central and South America, as well as in parts of the southern United States
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageThe caterpillars can defoliate and damage host plants

Description & Identification Guide

The caterpillar has a size that matches its name, and it can grow up to 15 cm in length in some cases. Aside from that, the caterpillar has black horns on its orange tail, a red-orange head, and red prolegs on an overall black body with regular yellow stripes. Furthermore, these caterpillars often appear in gardens and can have large leaves in just a few days. And in the last instars, caterpillars become green with a dark purple center back line.

28. Catalpa Sphinx

Catalpa Sphinx

Photo Credit Fun Fact: These caterpillars are juicy and highly prized as bait for fishing, especially for catfish.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameCeratomia catalpae
Other NamesCatalpa worm, Catawba worm
Length5-7 cm (2-2.75 inches)
Width1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 inches)
Host PlantsCatalpa trees
DistributionFound throughout the eastern United States
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageCaterpillars can defoliate catalpa trees.

Description & Identification Guide

Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillars are primarily white with black spots. However, as they age, they become variable in color and can range from chiefly yellow to almost entirely black. Furthermore, they have shiny heads, and their lengthwise yellow or green and black stripes become more apparent in giant caterpillars. If you want to look for them, you can find them on native catalpa trees or cigar trees in many US states.

29. Queen Caterpillar

Queen Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: it feeds on milkweed plants, which makes it distasteful and toxic to many predators.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameDanaus gilippus
Other NamesQueen butterfly caterpillar
Length4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches)
Width0.5-1 cm (0.2-0.4 inches)
Host PlantsVarious milkweed species
DistributionFound throughout North and South America
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageNot considered a pest

Description & Identification Guide

The queen caterpillar is one of the most beautiful caterpillars on this list, with black tentacles, white/black stripes, and yellow dots on a somewhat green body. However, the stripes may change in color depending on the life stage. It is nearly identical to the caterpillar of Danaus chrysippus. The caterpillar reaches its full size in 2-3 weeks and then pupates.

30. Six-Spot Burnet Caterpillar

Six-Spot Burnet Caterpillar

Photo Credit Fun Fact: The Six-Spot Burnet Caterpillar has striking black and yellow stripes reminiscent of a wasp.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameZygaena filipendulae
Other NamesSix-Spot Burnet Moth Caterpillar
Length2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 inches)
Width0.5-1 cm (0.2-0.4 inches)
Host PlantsVarious plants in the pea family, including clover and bird’s-foot trefoil
DistributionFound throughout Europe and Asia
Dangerous or Not?Not dangerous to humans or pets.
Pest Status & DamageNot considered a pest

Description & Identification Guide

Native to the UK, it is a fat yellow caterpillar with black markings in horizontal stripes. It is about two to three cm in length, and if you look closely, you might see tufts of white hair arising from its body. The body is divided into several small segments with two small, square-shaped black dots on each part. The term “six-spot” comes from the look of the butterfly’s glossy black wings, which the caterpillar will mature into later.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! A comprehensive identification guide for yellow and black caterpillars. There may be many more species of black and yellow caterpillars; however, the ones mentioned above are probably the ones you will come across in the wild and other places. Lastly, no matter how cute you find a yellow and black caterpillar, please do not touch it, no matter how tempted you are, unless you are sure it is safe to handle.

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