This is not a question that I ever remember thinking about. A caterpillar in my life was just a caterpillar. I never thought it needed to be put in a group of any kind except its own. I want to share a little story with you that will explain why I had to answer this question.
At school my son’s class was studying insects. He came home and told me he had to catch live insects and take them to school in a jar. Not long after this I walked into the garden and saw a caterpillar munching happily on some mint. I broke off the piece of mint and put the caterpillar and the mint in a jar and presented it to him. He studied it carefully and then came the question: “Is a caterpillar an insect? It doesn’t have 6 legs.”
It took quite a bit of explaining to get him to understand that his teacher would accept it for their insect study.
A caterpillar is the larval form of a butterfly or a moth. When butterflies and moths lay eggs, the eggs hatch as caterpillars. Another way to think of this is that a caterpillar is a baby butterfly or a baby moth. We know that butterflies and moths are insects, but does this mean that the caterpillars are also insects?
After doing a little bit of research I found that they are considered insects. The interesting thing is that most caterpillars use only six legs to move themselves along. The extra legs are only used for balance and for holding on. If you look at the picture of the caterpillars on the left you will see that they only have 6 legs.
The short answer to the question is: Yes, a caterpillar is an insect. I also have an article about where butterflies live if you want more information.
There are some other creatures that have a different form when they hatch. A good example of this is a frog that begins its life as a tadpole. It doesn’t look anything like a frog, but it does become one. The world of wild creatures is really full of interesting things.
What creature do you know about that starts its life as something that looks very different from what it will become?