How Many Eyes Do Caterpillars Have? The majority of caterpillars have twelve eyes, six on either side of their head.
A few species have between ten and fourteen eyes instead.
These species are largely more primitive forms, which also have other features that mark them out from other moths and butterflies.
What Do Caterpillars Eat?
Let’s start here! Caterpillars are butterfly and moth larvae.
They will hatch from the eggs, laid by both, either on the ground or on plants.
For the first fourteen days after they are born they will eat pretty much anything in their path.
Butterflies are incredibly careful about where they have their eggs for that reason.
The caterpillar starts eating wherever it hatches at because it helps to speed up the growing process.
What Are Caterpillars?
Caterpillars are in one of two groups.
There are either a general feeder or a specialist feeder.
What this means is that caterpillars who are specialist feeders usually eat from certain plants only, all of their lives.
While general feeders eat from several different plants.
An example of a specialist feeder is the monarch caterpillar who eats the leaves of the milkweed plant only.
This plant has a toxin which protects the caterpillar from predators.
An example of a general feeder is the mourning cloak that eats from birch, cottonwood, elm, and many other plants.
Now a moth caterpillar, such as the one from the southeastern United States, will eat off of the shells of gopher turtles. There are other caterpillars who are actually carnivorous and feed off of tiny insects like aphids.
What Does A Caterpillar Drink?
Unknown to most people, caterpillars do not actually drink.
Instead, they quench their thirst from the moisture in the leaves that they munch on.
Do not let your caterpillar eat from dry foliage or faded leaves.
This is how they get the water they need.
If the plants are faded or dried, there is no moisture in them.
Make sure to take any of these plants out of the cage.
Do not leave them in there with your caterpillar.
It can kill them.
However, do not put a dish of water into their cage.
Your caterpillar can drown trying to drink from a dish or puddle of water.
Also, if you need to water the host plant, try to use rainwater instead of tap water, this is better for your little temporary pet.
How Do I Feed A Caterpillar In Captivity?
Is it a specialist or a generalist feeder?
This is the first thing that you need to find out.
Look around wherever you caught the caterpillar at.
Was it on a plant when you found it?
If so, that is probably the host plant and exactly what it will eat.
If not, then gather a bunch of different plant leaves and see which one it prefers.
You’ll then know what your caterpillar will eat.
Try Oak Leaves
Most all caterpillars will eat oak leaves.
There are over 500 types of butterflies and moths that feed off of oak leaves.
So if you can’t seem to find that certain one your caterpillar likes.
Try oak leaves until you can find their preference.
You can also try cherry or apple leaves.
But, if you find the host plant, remember, it’s not just the leaves that they munch on.
They will eat on stems, grass, bark, and flower petals too.
Why Keep A Caterpillar In Captivity?
There are plenty of reasons that a person might take a caterpillar as a “temporary pet”.
Mainly for it’s own protection since mice and birds will eat them.
If it gets too hot or if the weather gets too bad it can kill them.
Another reason can be to protect your garden from them.
Caterpillars can cause a lot of harm to your plants and vegetables.
Some people will bring them inside but remember if you do, make sure they are in a tank or cage where they can get air.
They will need somewhere to cling to when they start to develop.
Sugar and Caterpillars
Although we do not recommend this.
When caterpillars are bought and shipped for butterfly kits, sugar is usually the food supply given with it and they do enjoy it.
As you can see, caterpillars will eat on a lot of different things but if it is possible, the host plant is what is recommended.
Try to find all you can of the host plant because your caterpillar will need a lot of food for the next fourteen days on average.
It is all they do during this time, eat.
Instead of cutting the host plant, replant it in a pot in the caterpillar’s cage.
Replant several of them if possible for it to have fresh leaves to eat.
So, basically, find the host plant when possible to feed your caterpillar.
Do not worry about giving it water as it gets water from the moisture in the plants leaves.
Now just sit back and watch it turn into a beautiful butterfly!