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Facts About Caterpillars: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 What are Caterpillars?
  • 0:55 The Caterpillar's Diet…
  • 1:56 Caterpillar Facts
  • 2:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Grace Miller

Mary Grace has taught first grade for 8 years and has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and is licensed in ESL.

You may have seen caterpillars in your yard. A caterpillar is the very beginning of a moth or a butterfly's life cycle. Caterpillars are very hungry creatures and eat lots of food. Keep reading to find out more about caterpillars, including how they eat and how they turn into a moth or a butterfly.

What Are Caterpillars?

There are about 180,000 different types of caterpillars. Caterpillars are a kind of animal called an insect. Insects have three body parts and two antennae on their heads. The three body parts are called the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. The head is just like a head on any other animal. It's where caterpillars' eyes and antennae are. The thorax is the middle part of the body between the head and the abdomen. The abdomen is the tail end of the body with the belly and digestive system. Caterpillars can be lots of different colors and are usually the same color as their habitat, or home. They try to blend in so they do not get eaten. They especially have to watch out for wasps and birds, two kinds of animals that really like to eat caterpillars.

The Caterpillar's Diet & Growth

Most caterpillars are herbivores. This means that they only eat plants, including the leaves and the fruit. A few caterpillars do eat animals like insect eggs. Caterpillars eat a lot of food really quickly. If you've ever read the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you know how much they eat! They need this energy to turn into moths or butterflies.

The life cycle of a caterpillar has four parts: egg, larva (the caterpillar stage), pupa (the chrysalis stage), and adult (the butterfly or moth stage). As caterpillars grow, they shed their skin, or molt. They can molt as many as four or five times.

When caterpillars are two to four weeks old, they begin making a chrysalis, or cocoon. They hang from a stick or tree while they are in their chrysalis, and when they come out, they are butterflies or moths, depending on the kind of caterpillar. Butterflies and moths can live for as little as a week or as long as a year.

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