What is a caterpillar classified as?

If you’ve ever seen a fuzzy little creature munching on a leaf, chances are it was a caterpillar. But have you ever thought about what group of organisms these voracious eaters belong to? In this article, we delve deep into the world of taxonomy and explore how caterpillars are classified.

The basics

Before we get started, let’s cover some basic terminology:

  • Taxonomy: The study of how living things are grouped and named.
  • Kingdom: The highest level of classification in taxonomic hierarchy.
  • Phylum: A subcategory under kingdom that groups together animals with similar characteristics.
  • Class: Further subdivisions that break down phyla into more specific groups based on structural similarities.

Now that we know the lingo, let’s dive deeper!

Kingdom Animalia

Caterpillars belong to the kingdom Animalia, which is comprised of multicellular eukaryotic organisms (meaning they have cells with nuclei). This places them within the same group as humans, dogs, birds, and fish.

Phylum Arthropoda

Within Animalia, caterpillars fall under the phylum Arthropoda. What does this mean? Well for starters – arthropods have jointed limbs…insects are one type of arthropod…but not all Arhtopoda are insects…some other examples include spiders!

Subphylum Hexapoda

This inclusive grouping takes us down to six-legged Arhropods…Every insect or insect larvae falls in here! Butterflies (which Caterpillars transform into) fall here too!

Class Insecta

This class further breaks down hexapod insects themselves! Like butterflies evolve from being cats pupating with chrysalis…

But where exactly do our ravenous creatures fit within these classifications?

Order Lepidoptera

Caterpillars are classified under the order Lepidoptera, also known as butterflies and moths. This order is characterized by having large, scaly wings and a mouth part called a proboscis that allows them to drink nectar.

Suborder Heterocera (Moths)

Within Lepidoptera, caterpillars are further classified within the sub-order Heterocera, along with all moth species

Superfamily Noctuoidea

The sorting doesn’t end there! As we delve deeper into taxonomy of moths we come across super families! Caterpillars fall under one such group’s umbrella classification : “Noctuoidea”.

Family Erebidae

Erebiaeda is only one among many different families in “noctuoidea” , it encompasses tiger moths, lichen and owlet… including our well-known example -the wooly bears !

Genus Spilosoma

Here ,we narrow down even more so- from family we reached genus … where you will find those typical little guys with black head capsules!

Now,Congratulations- at this point you know nearly everything I do! Whoever thought categorizing these creepy crawlies could be somewhat hard considering they’re not humans…but apparently every organism has their own place in world!


To sum up, caterpillars fall under Order Lepidoptea found exclusively within class insecta. Within insects themselves specifically inside “Hexapoda”. They belong to the sub order Heterocera which includes Moth species. Within heterocera lies super family noctucloodea whose members include several beloved #caterpillar varients like Woolly Bears that belong to the Erebiaeda family in particular Their niche falls under “Spilosoma” genus—a perfect fit for these remarkable organisms(even if they seem annoying!)

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