Most insect taxonomy has been performed using the adult forms,
so basically the only sure way to determine the species
of a caterpillar is to rear it through to the adult butterfly or moth,
and then identify that.
Although the caterpillars of many moth species are rather similar
to each other, some caterpillars are easy to identify because they have
some unique characteristic, see the list on the right.
Some of these caterpillars can be identified to the individual species.
Some can only be identified easily to the family.
But some beasties look like caterpillars but
are not true caterpillars at all, see below.
If you cannot get enough information from the
rest of this page, please feel free to contact us,
and tell us:
country (not obvious from email!),
state or province or area,
length and diameter,
colour and description,
circumstances in which it was found,
possible foodplants, and
if at all possible: 3 photographs of it:-
1. from the side,
2. from on top, and
3. of the head in close up.
Please note that we don't know much about non-Australian species.
and their larvae look like caterpillars but are from other orders.
They can easily be distinguished from the larvae of Lepidoptera (true caterpillars)
because generally they have the wrong number and types of legs,
and not the six true legs
plus the extra ten prolegs
which most caterpillars have.
Spitfire Sawfly larvae,
Gum Sawfly larvae,
Bottlebrush Sawfly larvae,
Paperbark Sawfly larvae,
Red-Ash Sawfly larvae,
Cherry Slug larvae,
Other Sawfly larvae,
Leaf Beetle Grubs,
Yellow Ladybird larvae,
Fungus-eating Ladybird larvae,
Soldier Fly Maggots,
Rat Tailed Fly Maggots,
Magnificent Bolas Spider egg-sacs
huge: more than 10 cms long,
has a tall hat on its head,
has a spike on its head,
has four spikes on its head,
black and hairy, with 2 red knobs on the tail,
smooth, dark brown, 4 yellow spots on thorax,
walks in procession,
green with 2 black knobs on its tail,
black, orange spots, wiggly tail spine, eats Balsam,
Wijuti (or Witchetty) Grub.
Smooth and walks in a looper fashion:
Rears up and pokes a forked thing out of its head when disturbed: