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These are among the first of the caterpillars of spring. I think they turn into moths later. We saw MILLIONS of them at Maioka Park while admiring the violets. The handrails along the walking trails back to the carpark were wrapped in these, and my sister scrammed as fast we could. I’m not usually squeamish about caterpillars except for the little black hairy ones. These ones can give you bad rashes, kids are often rushed to hospital after coming into contact with these. Both my sister and I had nightmares about them that night!

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The photos of the different kinds of caterpillars seen in this small space wasn’t rigged – they all seem very partial to the morning glory plant on the fence here. The big fat caterpillar you see on the left is called Ki-ageha which means Yellow Monarch Butterfly.

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Some species of caterpillars can defend itself against its predators.

The one in this photo was puffing up its front and whipping its head and shaking or swaying from side to side at high speed when I approached. This is my favorite caterpillar photo taken at Shirakawago.

Caterpillar Facts:

Scientists group butterflies and moths into 24 groups known as superfamilies. Butterflies belong to only 2 of these superfamilies, the rest of the groups contain moths. The first of the Butterfly superfamilies are Hesperoidea that includes all 3,000 species of Skippers. The second superfamily grouping consists of 15,000 species of Papilionoidea which is further divided into the Papilionidae (Swallowtails, Apollos, Festoons); Pieridae (Whites and Yellows);Lycaenidae (Blues, Coppers and Hairstreaks) and Nymphalidae (Fritillaries, Morphos, Monarchs, Browns and Satyrs).

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What will this caterpillar turn into? It’s about 5 cm long and has an orange stripe down its back. Is it a moth or a butterfly caterpillar I wonder.


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