Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Caterpillar, the name of the first of the three stages of the life of an insect after its emergence from the egg. The caterpillars of the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) are the best known, and most typical. They are generally elongated and worm-like: the body is not definitely divided into three regions, as in the adult. There are no wings, but the rudiments of these can be found in some cases. The caterpillar crawls by means of a series of short jointed legs placed along the sides of its body; as these have no relation to the legs of the adult they are known as "prolegs." The structures that develop into the legs of the adult insect or imago are three pairs of processes at the anterior end of the body: by means of these the caterpillar guides its food to its mouth, which has rather powerful jaws. The caterpillars of Lepidoptera are very various in form and colour: they are often provided with bristles or various processes, and often gain other protection from the fact of their colour and ornamentation resembling those of their environment. Caterpillars occur in other orders of Insects, but are often known by other names, such as the "maggots" of flies.