12 Rare Pink Caterpillars (Pictures and Identification)

Some of the rarest types of caterpillars are pink. Most pink caterpillars found in The United States are found in the Eastern parts of the country.

Some of the rarest types of pink caterpillars that feed on palms are further seen across California and the Southwestern parts of the US.

Many species of caterpillars are only initially pink, as they hide and feed on the underside of leaves.

They may become green as they mature and as they switch to the upper side of leaves and eat all parts of the host plant leaves.

Rare species are found in different morphs, typically pink and green in the same habitat and with the same growth stage.

One or multiple broods of pink caterpillars are seen each year, depending on the species and the location.

1. Silvery Blue Caterpillar

The Silvery Blue Caterpillar (Glaucopsyche lygdamus) is a species that starts its lifecycle as a pink species. It’s bright coloring then turns into green coloring in late instars.

Glaucopsyche lygdamus
Silvery Blue Caterpillar. Image by Derek Dunnett via inaturalist

Light pink coloring with white sections is specific to the first growth stages of this caterpillar.

These bright colors aren’t further seen on the adult butterfly. The Silvery Blue Butterfly is partly blue and partly gray, on its ventral side.

A high presence of the species is specific to North America. Its presence is signaled in multiple habitats, up to Canada.

A large type of caterpillar, the species maintains its above-average size as an adult that reaches a wingspan of up to 28mm.

2. Drab Prominent Caterpillar

Misogada unicolor
Drab Prominent Caterpillar. Imaged by Samantha Heller via inaturalist

Drab Prominent Caterpillars (Misogada unicolor) are also known for having an initial pink color.

This is a specific color to its first growth stages as the species eventually becomes green.

A uniform pink color of a darker nuance is specific to the Drab Prominent Caterpillar at first. Its secondary instars come with a bright pink dorsal stripe.

The species slowly transition towards being a green caterpillar with a wide mid-dorsal stripe.

Pink and green colors also mark the life stages these caterpillars are known to eat on a specific type of leaf.

Poplar leaves are among the preferred foods of the species.

The underside of the leaf is eaten by the pink caterpillar. As it surfaces to the top of the leaves, the caterpillar camouflages itself into a green color.

3. White-blotched Prominent Caterpillar

Heterocampa umbrata
White-blotched Prominent Caterpillar. Imaged by m_ormsby via inaturalist

This species is native to Eastern parts of North America.

Like many pink caterpillars, the White-blotched Prominent Caterpillar (Heterocampa umbrata) is only pink in its initial growth stages.

A dark uniform pink color is specific to the species at first. A light pink dorsal band latera makes its appearance.

The species later turns green but it maintains a row of tiny pink lateral dots even at this stage.

Emerged moths have a black, gray, and white mottled color, without any vivid coloring from their caterpillar stage.

Part of the Notodontidae species, this type of moth is part of a wider group with a similar appearance as there are more than 2.800 moths in this family.

4. Pink-striped Oakworm

Pink-striped Oakworm

Pink-striped Oakworm caterpillars (Anisota virginiensis) are an invasive species across North American woodlands.

These types of caterpillars are found across multiple habitats as they feed on oak and other tree leaves. Hazel leaves are also eaten by the caterpillar which requires management techniques.

Pink-striped Oakworms have a multicolored body.

Wide pink stripes are seen on its body, together with black or dark gray coloring which also shows tiny white dots.

Black spines and long black antennae contrast with their bright coloring.

The species is generally seen as dangerous as it can even defoliate woodlands every few years if left unmanaged.

Chemical sprays can be used on oak or hazel trees at home.

5. Indra Swallowtail Caterpillar

Papilio indra
Indra Swallowtail Caterpillars (Papilio indra)

Like other species that are also pink, Indra Swallowtail Caterpillars (Papilio indra) are only pink as they mature.

They are initially almost completely black with short thick black spines.

Only tiny pink dots contrast its black color.

As they reach their final instar or growth stage, these caterpillars show pink and black alternating bands.

This species can be found in canyons, on mountains, and around deserts in North America.

Much of its presence is limited by the presence of its host plants, which are all in the parsley family.

California, Nevada, and other Eastern states are just some of the areas where the pink Indra Swallowtail Caterpillar can be seen.

6. Mottled Prominent Caterpillar

Macrurocampa marthesia
Mottled Prominent Caterpillar. Imaged by kirstibarnes via inaturalist

An Eastern US presence is specific to The Mottled Prominent Caterpillar (Macrurocampa marthesia).

This is a species that starts life as a green caterpillar to slowly shows a mid-dorsal pink and white strip.

The species used green and pink colors to mimic the colors of a leaf and its veins.

Spotting the Mottled Prominent Caterpillar is not a good sign as this species is a pest of deciduous trees.

Oak and other hardwood trees tend to be the most impacted by the feeding caterpillar.

Maple is also impacted by the species to the point of complete defoliation.

7. Tobacco Budworm

Chloridea virescens
Chloridea virescens. Imaged by Kathryn Wells via inaturalist

This type of caterpillar (Chloridea virescens) is a major tobacco crop pest. It can eat entire tobacco leaves.

Over time, the species has also migrated to other species such as cabbage.

Cotton and cantaloupe are just a few other leafy crops also impacted by this species.

Caterpillars of the species are marked by pink, tan, white, and black coloring at first.

It darkens to more orange and black nuances over time.

High resistance to pesticides is one of the major concerns when it comes to this colorful species.

Removing the weeds around major types of crops is one of the early management techniques against the species.

8. Banded Sphinx Caterpillar

Banded Sphinx Caterpillar

Green and pink or green and red variations are specific to the Banded Sphinx Caterpillar (Eumorpha fasciatus).

Its pink morph tends to have wider pink sections on the body just before pupation while its lateral and ventral coloring is green,

Initially, this species has more green and pink alternation in the forms of bands with white diagonal stripes.

The pink color of the species is further seen once the adult moth emerges.

Pink sections are seen both on the forewings and the hindwings of the species.

Michigan is among the multiple Northern states where the Banded Sphinx Caterpillar is present.

9. Gray Hairstreak Caterpillar

Strymon melinus
Gray Hairstreak Caterpillar. Imaged by Chhaya Werner via inaturalist

Bright pink coloring is specific to the early stage Gray Hairstreak Caterpillar (Strymon melinus).

This is a species that later shows lateral green coloring to a more pink and green appearance.

Adult Gray Hairstreaks don’t have any pink coloring, as they are represented by blue and gray.

Different types of clovers and cover crops are eaten by these caterpillars.

While all caterpillars feed on the same plant, they have different preferences by age.

Young caterpillars only feed on the small flowers of their hosts while grown caterpillars can consume entire leaves.

Open woodlands across both the Eastern and Western parts of the US are home to this species.

10. Primrose Moth Caterpillar

Primrose Moth Caterpillar

Primrose Moth Caterpillars (Schinia florida) are found in Eastern and Northeastern habitats across the US.

This is one of the species that is seen in different morphs. A green and a pink morph with tiny white dots are specific to this species.

Primrose Moths are also among the few species which show pink coloring across all life stages.

Both the caterpillar and the emerging adult have pink colors. The moth of the species has pink forewings and white hindwings.

Largely unseen due to its nocturnal nature, this species is only active in one brood per year.

This species can also overwinter in a caterpillar stage, mainly by retreating into the ground.

This brood is typically limited to the flowering period of its preferred plants for food.

11. Palm Flower Moth Caterpillar

Litoprosopus coachella
Palm Flower Moth Caterpillar. Image by sandytoes29464 via inaturalist

Pink coloring of a bright nuance is also specific to the grown Palm Flower Moth Caterpillar (Litoprosopus coachella).

This is a species with dark pink coloring at first. Its pink color brightens and white sections start to appear across its body as it grows.

California is one of the few states where stable populations of The Palm Flower Moth Caterpillars can be found in.

To a lesser extent, the species can also be found in Nevada.

The Mexican Fan Palm is one of the most common types of palm this species grows on. Palms of this family are native to the Southwestern parts of the US.

Adult moths have a cream-to-tan color, without any pink coloring.

12. Oblique Heterocampa Moth Caterpillar

Heterocampa obliqua
Heterocampa obliqua. Image by drwesty via inaturalist

The Oblique Heterocampa Moth Caterpillar (Heterocampa obliqua) is one of the green species with pink dorsal patterns.

Pink diamond-shaped patterns are seen across the dorsal side of this species.

A light base green color is specific to the first instars of the species. Its general color darkens and its diamond-shaped pink sections become white as it grows.

The head of the species also undergoes color changes as the caterpillar matures. Its initial pink head starts to become green and pink towards the later growth stages of the species.