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A caterpillar is a young butterfly or moth that has just hatched out of its egg. A caterpillar is a kind of larva. When it is older, the caterpillar will turn into a pupa (also known as a chrysalis), and then later the pupa will turn into a butterfly.
Caterpillars usually have three pairs of small, but noticeable, true legs at the front and up to 5 pairs of fleshy false legs at the back.
Caterpillars are commonly found feeding on leaves, but they are also found inside living stems and branches or on the roots of plants and dead wood.
Most caterpillars are shades of green or brown and are relatively hairless, although in many families caterpillars are very hairy and often brightly coloured. Some species are pests of growing plants, carpets, woollens, organic fabrics and stored food products.
Caterpillars are an important source of food for birds and other invertebrates and many species help dead animals and plants decompose.
Examples of different kinds of caterpillars.