Difference Between Caterpillar and Butterfly

Main Difference

The main difference between caterpillar and butterfly is that caterpillar is just the larva of a butterfly, whereas butterfly is the flying insect having diurnal activity and brighter color.

Caterpillar vs. Butterfly

A caterpillar is an early larval stage of a butterfly whereas butterfly is the flying insect having diurnal activity and brighter color. Caterpillar destroys plants with strong jaws and chews leaves while butterfly only drinks nectar through its proboscis, promoting plant growth by pollinate flowers. Caterpillar walks minimally on its stubby legs, but butterfly flies thousands of miles, fluttering agilely from place to place. Caterpillar is sexless and cannot mate; on the other hand, the butterfly is male or female and can mate and lay eggs. Caterpillars can see only black and white while the butterfly can see all colors. Caterpillar’s abdomen has prolegs, on the flip side, the butterfly’s abdomen has no legs. Caterpillar has simple antennae; on the contrary, the butterfly has long club-shaped antennae. Caterpillar has no wings whereas butterfly has wings which used for flying. Ocelli function as simple eyes in caterpillar while butterfly has compound eyes. Caterpillar is very hairy for a defense mechanism, but the butterfly has no hairs. Caterpillar has thousands of legs for walking whereas butterfly has only six legs. Caterpillar does not show insect characteristics, while butterfly shows all insect characteristics.

Comparison Chart

CaterpillarButterfly
The larva of a butterfly, leafworm, and moth is a caterpillar.The butterfly is the flying insect having diurnal activity and brighter color.
Food
Feed on solid food by chewing and bitingFeed on liquid food by drinking nectar from a flower
Legs
Thousands of legsHave only six legs
Antennae
Simple antennaeLong club-shaped antennae
Eyes
Ocelli function as simple eyesHave compound eyes
Wings
No wingsHave wings used for flying
Move
Walk minimally on its stubby legs on leaves and branchesFlies in the air for visiting many flowers
See
Can see the only black and white colorAble to see colors

What is Caterpillar?

A caterpillar is just the larval stage of a butterfly showing no insect characteristics. Caterpillar feeds on plants and destroys plants with strong jaws and chew leaves. Caterpillar can grow 100 times their size during this larval stage. Caterpillar walks minimally on its stubby legs because it has thousands of short legs for walking. Caterpillar is sexless and cannot mate. Caterpillar only eats and eats, and then it stabilizes or makes a cocoon. After this, it undergoes metamorphosis and then after a period; it struggles its way outspends some time driving “bug blood” into its wings. When the wings are fully expanded and dried, it flies off to find a friend of the same species, to fertilize some eggs and reproduce. Caterpillars mostly are herbivorous, but some may be insectivorous. Caterpillar has a soft body that can grow rapidly between molts. Their size varies from as small as 1 mm up to 14 cm. Caterpillar can see only black and white color, so, ocelli function as simple eyes in the caterpillar. Caterpillar is very hairy, which is most beneficial for its defense mechanism. Its appearance often repels its predators, and also some parts make it poisonous and non-edible.

What is Butterfly?

A butterfly is a flying insect having diurnal activity and brighter color. Butterfly show all the characteristics of insects having wings, three body parts, six legs, and antenna. The butterfly only drinks nectar through its proboscis, promoting plant growth by pollinate flowers. The butterfly is the major source of reproduction occurs in plants. Butterfly has wings, so it flies thousands of miles, fluttering agilely from place to place. The butterfly can be a male or female and can mate and lay eggs. Butterfly has long club-shaped antennae from where it senses its predators from a distance. Butterfly has only six legs because it already has large wings, often brightly colored wings, and helps it having a conspicuous, fluttering flight. Butterfly has four stages of its life; first is laying eggs, then larva is formed which concerted into a pupa and then into an adult form. Butterfly navigate using a time-rewarded sun compass from which they can see polarized light and therefore turn even in cloudy conditions. The butterfly is sometimes sexually dimorphic where the male is homogametic (ZZ), and the female has heterogametic sex (ZW).

Key Differences

  1. A caterpillar is an early larval stage of a butterfly whereas butterfly is the flying insect having diurnal activity and brighter color.
  2. Caterpillar walks minimally on its stubby legs, but butterfly flies thousands of miles, fluttering agilely from place to place.
  3. Caterpillar destroys plants with strong jaws and chews leaves while butterfly only drinks nectar through its proboscis, promoting plant growth by pollinate flowers.
  4. Caterpillar is sexless and cannot mate; on the other hand, the butterfly is male or female and can mate and lay eggs.
  5. Caterpillars can see only black and white while the butterfly can see all colors.
  6. Caterpillar’s abdomen has prolegs, on the flip side, the butterfly’s abdomen has no legs.
  7. Caterpillar has simple antennae; on the contrary, the butterfly has long club-shaped antennae.
  8. Ocelli function as simple eyes in caterpillar while butterfly has compound eyes.
  9. Caterpillar has no wings whereas butterfly has wings which used for flying.
  10. Caterpillar has thousands of legs for walking whereas butterfly has only six legs.

Conclusion

Above discussion concludes that caterpillar is just the larva of a butterfly whereas butterfly is the flying insect having diurnal activity and brighter color with all insect characteristics.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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