The Historic 'Hungry Caterpillar': What Do Caterpillars Eat?

Nidhi Sahai
Feb 24, 2023 By Nidhi Sahai
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Vikhaash Sundararaj
You can learn about what do caterpillars eat.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 4.7 Min

Caterpillar food rarely has any carnivorous diet.

The host plant of this creature remains the same for larvae and moths also. The 'Very Hungry Caterpillar' is a fictional character of a caterpillar from the picture book for children which was designed and written by Eric Carle and published by the World Publishing Company in 1969.

In the book, this protagonist caterpillar has been portrayed in a way that this caterpillar eats many varieties of food before evolving into a butterfly. You can say that the diet of the 'Very Hungry Caterpillar' is quite interesting. Those plants which the caterpillars eat are called natural host plants. There can be variations in the diet of these butterfly caterpillars around different regions of the world. There are many varieties of host plants. Because of the variations in ph and moisture of the soil from garden to garden, the host plants differ. People mistake caterpillars for worms. Though they look like them and are also cold-blooded, they are larvae of moths while worms grow into beetles. or can even stay as a worm throughout their life same that of earthworms.

If you like your little garden friends and want to know more about some small creatures, you can get more insight on what do iguanas eat and what do millipedes eat articles on our website.

Do caterpillars eat grass?

Most caterpillars are not carnivorous creatures and usually feed on just plant matter. Though there can be a preference difference between certain plants. Birds like to eat caterpillars from the tree.

Butterfly caterpillar eats grass and even enjoys feeding on them. They like soft sprouts of grass and enjoy the varieties of grass in the gardens and lawns. Those caterpillars who like eating grasses will also like the soft stem and seed material of it. There are some caterpillars who are omnivorous like the Rosy Marbled moth caterpillar. These caterpillars mainly feed on alive or even dead insects and have plant material in their diet also. They can even show cannibalistic behavior if they get too dehydrated. The Large blue butterfly caterpillar feeds on the buds of flowers before touching the ground. They even have a scent which they use to attract the ants.

What kind of leaves do caterpillars eat?

There are not one single species of leaves that these caterpillars like.

There are many species. Caterpillars of different regions like different types of leaves. Some might even like dead leaves and flowers. Most of the species of caterpillars feed on oak leaves. More than 500 moths and butterfly species enjoy eating on oak leaves. Many species are there that like to eat cherry, willow, leaves, and red apples. People like feeding mulberry to caterpillars under captivity.

What do monarch caterpillars eat besides milkweed?

There is hardly any other substance than the milkweed that these monarch caterpillars will like to eat. Though the larvae may feed on any other host plant.

Monarch caterpillar is the favorite of caterpillar keepers because these caterpillars grow to be monarch butterflies. Though these creatures are meticulous eaters, still they just feed on one plant species and that is the leaves of milkweed plants. This plant contains a toxin that helps these small caterpillars survive from large predators in wildlife. The adult monarch can feed on different nectar-bearing plants. Many birds eat them from the tree. There are few species of caterpillars that enjoy the taste of hair, natural fibers, and clothes. The most common cloth material for this is wool and cotton, also many other types of clothes stored away.

The adult monarch can feed on different nectar bearing plants

What do caterpillars like to eat?

Butterfly caterpillars usually feed on both plant and flower material, and there is also no fixed variety that these caterpillars like to eat. There can be variations in the diet of these butterfly caterpillars around different regions of the world.

The most common diet a caterpillar has is the diet of fruits, grasses, vegetables, and many more. Most caterpillars do not like to eat materials from flowers but there are few species like a star-worth caterpillar that like buds, blooms, and seeds of plants. They also like many fruits and vegetables such as corn, cabbage, lettuce, apples, bananas, and peer along with many more, which you can think. The newly hatched caterpillar will primarily feed on the honeycomb. There are few caterpillars who like to eat hard materials such as twigs and barks, though most don't prefer that. It's just that some caterpillars do not need much moisture to live and can eat dry foods also. Caterpillars are also like animal waste to eat. The skin moth caterpillar feeds on mice and dead birds. They even like the poop of certain birds and owls. Their diet may look very disgusting to you, but because of this, our surroundings stay clean and the dead matter decomposes also.

What can I feed a caterpillar?

To restore the lost habitats of caterpillars, you can attract to your garden many host plants and flower for butterflies and moths.

There are many butterfly and moths species that like to feed on only one type of plant. Depending on the variety of caterpillar, you can feed it ants, animal waste, hairs, twigs, buckwheat, lupines, milkvetch, cudweed, parsley, dill, fennel, common rue, black birch, wild black cherry, black chokeberry, tulip tree, willow, wild cherries, basswood, insects, common black oaks, red cherries, and cottonwoods. They keep munching on a small green leaf.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do caterpillars eat, then why not take a look at what do insects eat or caterpillar facts?

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Nidhi Sahai

Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Nidhi Sahai picture

Nidhi SahaiBachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Dedicated and experienced, Nidhi is a professional content writer with a strong reputation for delivering high-quality work. She has contributed her expertise to esteemed organizations, including Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd. Driven by her insatiable curiosity and love for journalism and mass communication, Nidhi pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, graduating with distinction in 2021. During her college years, she discovered her passion for Video Journalism, showcasing her skills as a videographer for her institution. Nidhi's commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional pursuits. Actively engaging in volunteer work, she has contributed to various events and initiatives throughout her academic career.

Read full bio >
Read the DisclaimerFact Correction