Exploring Florida’s Furry Friends: A Guide to Identifying Types of Caterpillars

Florida, with its diverse ecosystems and subtropical climate, is home to a wide variety of caterpillar species. Here are some common types of caterpillars found in Florida:

1. Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar (Agraulis vanillae)

The Gulf Fritillary caterpillar is known for its bright orange body with spiky spines. It feeds on passionflower plants and can often be found in gardens and natural habitats throughout Florida.

2. Zebra Longwing Caterpillar (Heliconius charithonia)

The Zebra Longwing caterpillar is characterized by its black body with yellow stripes and spiky spines. It feeds on passionflower vines and is commonly found in southern Florida.

3. Buckeye Caterpillar (Junonia coenia)

The Buckeye caterpillar has a black body with spiky spines and distinctive orange markings. It feeds on plants in the snapdragon family and can be found in various habitats across Florida.

4. Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes)

The Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar has a green body with black and yellow markings. It feeds on plants in the carrot family, including parsley, dill, and fennel. It is widespread throughout Florida.

5. Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio troilus)

The Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar has a green body with black and yellow markings. It feeds primarily on spicebush and sassafras trees and can be found in forests and woodlands of Florida.

These are just a few examples of the caterpillar species you may encounter in Florida. It’s worth noting that caterpillars can vary in appearance, behavior, and habitat preferences, so there are many more species to discover in the state. While observing caterpillars can be fascinating, remember to appreciate them from a safe distance and avoid touching or disturbing them.