A caterpillar is a fuzzy, worm-like insect that transforms into a butterfly or a moth. Many caterpillars are striped and colorful.

A caterpillar is officially the larva, or immature form, of a flying insect — generally, a butterfly. Because caterpillars are growing rapidly, they tend to eat constantly, and for this reason they're considered pests by gardeners and farmers. The word caterpillar comes from the Old North French caterpilose, literally "shaggy cat," from the Late Latin catta, "cat," and pilosus, "hairy" or "shaggy."

Definitions of caterpillar
  1. noun
    a wormlike and often brightly colored and hairy or spiny larva of a butterfly or moth
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    tussock caterpillar
    larva of a tussock moth
    green caterpillar of a geometrid moth; pest of various fruit and shade trees
    inchworm, looper, measuring worm
    small hairless caterpillar having legs on only its front and rear segments; mostly larvae of moths of the family Geometridae
    Phthorimaea operculella, potato tuberworm
    larva of potato moth; mines in leaves and stems of e.g. potatoes and tobacco
    North American moth whose larvae feed on young plant stems cutting them off at the ground
    Pseudaletia unipuncta, army worm, armyworm
    noctuid moth larvae that travel in multitudes destroying especially grass and grain
    Spodoptera exigua, beet armyworm
    moth larva that eats foliage of beets and other vegetables
    Spodoptera frugiperda, fall armyworm
    larva of a migratory American noctuid moth; destroys grasses and small grains
    Manduca sexta, tobacco hornworm, tomato worm
    large green white-striped hawkmoth larva that feeds on tobacco and related plants; similar to tomato hornworm
    Manduca quinquemaculata, potato worm, tomato hornworm
    large green white-striped hawkmoth larva that feeds on tomato and potato plants; similar to tobacco hornworm
    the commercially bred hairless white caterpillar of the domestic silkworm moth which spins a cocoon that can be processed to yield silk fiber; the principal source of commercial silk
    giant silkworm, silkworm, wild wilkworm
    larva of a saturniid moth; spins a large amount of strong silk in constructing its cocoon
    tent caterpillar
    the larvae of moths that build and live in communal silken webs in orchard and shade trees
    lappet caterpillar
    larva of a lappet moth
    several gregarious moth larvae that spin webs over foliage on which they feed
    Pyrausta nubilalis, corn borer
    larva of the European corn borer moth; a serious pest of maize
    any of various moth caterpillars that destroy cotton bolls
    Pieris rapae, cabbageworm
    toxic green larva of a cabbage butterfly
    woolly bear, woolly bear caterpillar
    caterpillar of numerous moths characterized by a dense coat of woolly hairs; feed on plants and some are destructive pests
    spring cankerworm
    variably colored looper; larva of Paleacrita vernata
    fall cankerworm
    green or brown white-striped looper; larva of Alsophila pometaria
    Chorizagrotis auxiliaris, army cutworm
    larvae (of a noctuid moth) that travel in large groups and destroy grains and alfalfa in the midwestern states
    Samia cynthia, ailanthus silkworm
    large green silkworm of the cynthia moth
    Malacosoma disstria, forest tent caterpillar
    larvae of a gregarious North American moth that spins a web resembling a carpet rather than a tent; serious defoliator of deciduous trees
    Hyphantria cunea, fall webworm
    a variety of webworm
    Loxostege similalis, garden webworm
    a variety of webworm
    Gelechia gossypiella, pink bollworm
    larvae of a gelechiid moth introduced from Asia; feeds on the seeds of cotton bolls
    Heliothis zia, corn earworm, cotton bollworm, tobacco budworm, tomato fruitworm, vetchworm
    larva of a noctuid moth; highly destructive to especially corn and cotton and tomato crops
    woolly bear moth
    larva of moth of the family Arctiidae
    type of:
    the immature free-living form of most invertebrates and amphibians and fish which at hatching from the egg is fundamentally unlike its parent and must metamorphose
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