It's a bright spring day, perfect for playing catch. But you and your friend are still a little out of practice from the long winter, so you end up in the bushes, looking for an overthrown ball. What is that!? The brightly colored, stumpy-legged creature looks like nothing you've ever seen. Welcome to the wild—and sometimes woolly—world of Minnesota caterpillars.
A caterpillar is a wormlike insect called a larva. When fully grown, a caterpillar will turn into a moth or a butterfly.
Caterpillars come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are smooth, fat, and green. Others are hairy, prickly, and brown. Some have spines that look like horns. Others have spots that look like eyes. Some caterpillars live in trees. Others spend their time on flowers.
Minnesota is home to at least 800 species of moths and about 140 butterfly species. That means almost 1,000 different species of caterpillars are creeping, crawling, and munching their way through summer days. This story introduces a few you might find in your yard or at the park.