Caterpillars aren’t caterpillars for very long, but while they are going about their caterpillar business, they need to eat. So what do caterpillars eat exactly? Well, caterpillars eat the leaves of trees and plants with flowers. Some caterpillars eat parts of plants, like seeds or flowers. Some caterpillars tend to only eat the leaves of the plants where they spend their short lives (these are called host plants), but this isn’t always the case. Many caterpillars will eat from more than one plant type, and there are even a few caterpillars that are carnivorous. This type of caterpillar usually feeds on small, soft-bodied insects like aphids.
The banded woolly bear caterpillar is a common caterpillar seen in Arizona and they eat birch, sunflower, maple, and aster leaves, as well as herbs, grass, weeds, nettles, and dandelions.
When caterpillars are thirsty, they don’t drink water the way other insects or animals do. In order to get their share of water, they eat more leaves, since leaves contain all the water a caterpillar needs to quench its thirst.
If you only have a few caterpillars in your garden, they’re probably not doing too much – if any – damage. But if you have a lot of caterpillars, they may be chewing their way through your landscaping or garden plants. Simply picking each caterpillar off the plants they’re munching on will usually solve the problem. And no chemicals are needed to rid yourself of these insects.
At Bug & Weed Mart, we answer questions like what do caterpillars eat and we have all the professional-grade, environmentally-safe products to treat for garden pests. Come see us at any of our 6 stores Valley-wide, 6 days a week, and we will show you exactly how to control everything that’s bugging you.