Green Caterpillars That Eat Garden Plants

Updated February 21, 2017

Caterpillars are the larvae stage of moths and butterflies which gradually change into adult insects. Caterpillars can prove devastating to plants and crops since their food consumption continues to increase with each new phase of their development. It is difficult to destroy adult caterpillars with the use of insecticides. The presence of caterpillars in gardens and fields is influenced by gardening practices and weather conditions.

Luna Moth Larva

The luna moth caterpillar is the larva stage of the luna moth or the moon moth. The light green caterpillar has a pale yellow line along its lower side and is about 4 inches long. Luna moth caterpillar has a variety of host trees which include cherry, alder, hickory, walnut, birch, beech, chestnut, hazelnut, persimmon, pecan and sweet gum. The caterpillar spins its cocoon in the leaves on the ground and is hence difficult to find during winter. The emerging adult moths have light green wings with yellow, pink or maroon margins.

Polyphemus Moth Larva

The Polyphemus moth larva is the caterpillar of a common giant silk worm. The 4-inch long caterpillar is light green in colour and covered with harmless hair. The Polyphemus moth larva feeds on a variety of plants in the garden, including shrubs as well as trees. These include elm, maple, hickory, apple, cherry, willow, grape, ash, pine and many plants belonging to the rose family. The caterpillar stays in its caterpillar stage for 48 to 50 days. The caterpillar spins a hard, round, parchment-like cocoon in the host tree during early fall or late summer. It stays in this cocoon during the winter and emerges as a moth during the following spring or summer.

Prothema Moth Larva

The prometha moth larva is the caterpillar stage of the prometha moth or the silk moth. The smooth light green caterpillar is slightly tinged with blue and has four red-orange spikes near its head and one at the end. Every separate body segment also has four small black or blue spots. Prometha moth larva nests and feeds on a wide variety of plants and trees, which include spicebush, tuliptree, willow, poplar, ash, apple, pear, lilac, birch, button bush, basswood, maple and chokeberry. The caterpillar retains its larva stage for 42 to 54 days and overwinters in its host plant in a cocoon attached to the plant or tree with a silk stalk.

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About the Author

Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer with over 20 years of nonfiction writing experience in newspaper op-eds and magazine writing, book editing, translating and research writing. Sarfaraz is originally from Pakistan and has been published in both American and Pakistani newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, and diplomas in nonfiction writing.