caterpillars, moths & butterflies

The kids and I have found many different species of caterpillars, moths, and butterflies in our yard in Brevard County, Florida.

We love to photograph them, identify them and learn about their superpowers – or their unique survival skills.

Not only are bugs fascinating to learn about, but as a gardener, you need to know about the insects lurking in your yard – they will tell you a lot about the health of your garden.

So, here are some of the caterpillars, moths, and butterflies we have been fortunate enough to find (and photograph) in our Brevard County, Florida food forest garden!

IO moth caterpillar

Caterpillars, Moths and Butterflies green spiky brown striped florida Io caterpillar
IO caterpillar eating a Gandules (Pigeon Pea) leaf

This spiky green IO caterpillar has a cool brownish-red stripe down its sides. You can tell by looking at it that you probably shouldn’t touch it. The venomous spikes are designed to break off in your skin and it’s pretty painful.

IO caterpillars have a huge variety of host plants – making it hard to predict what plants they will be on. I have seen them munching on the leaves of my gandules and oak trees as well as the hibiscus. I have never touched one, but I always keep scotch tape handy just in case I do.

Banded sphynx (eumorpha fasciatus)

This banded sphynx caterpillar was a cool find. I found it on my most hated weed in the field – Mexican primrose-willow (I call it the devil weed). It grows into huge bushes with insanely strong taproots that make it very hard to remove, but after finding out it’s a host to these guys, I at least let it grow now, then cut it back when it goes to seed.

Florida Caterpillars, Moths and Butterflies
Banded sphynx caterpillar eating a Mexican primrose willow in our field

I lifted the leaf to take a photo and I couldn’t believe how heavy it was…and why is it so heavy? Maybe because it turns into a huge moth! Check out the moth it becomes!

banded sphinx moth

I was closing the garage door one night, and this huge moth came flying in. I thought it was a bird. I ran over to check it out, and it jumped right on my hand.

White Peacock

The white peacock butterflies seem to like the Bidens alba and the Chaya in my front yard. They have been the most commonly seen butterfly in my garden, but now that I am introducing new species of flowers, I am seeing a lot of new varieties!

golden brown white moth eyespots white peacock florida Caterpillars, Moths and Butterflies
Named ‘Peacock’ butterfly for the similar eyespot markings as a peacock

Pink Striped Oakworms

Oak trees are a host plant to oakworms. The oakworm moths lay clusters of yellow eggs on the underside of the leaves. They hatch into these pink and green caterpillars. We have 11 huge oak trees on our property and occasionally, we stumble across oakworm caterpillars that fall out and land in the driveway, which is where we found this guy.

When the caterpillar is ready to morph into a moth, it buries itself in the leaf litter and turns into a brown cocoon. Then, emerges as an awesome orange and pink moth.

neon orange pink fuzzy florida Caterpillars, Moths and Butterflies
We were so surprised the first time we saw an oakworm caterpillar emerge into this fuzzy neon orange and pink moth.

Caterpillars, Moths and Butterflies