Q:

How do you tell if a caterpillar is a boy or girl?

A:

Quick Answer

It is nearly impossible to tell if a caterpillar is male or female; most species must be dissected to determine gender. However, the gender of butterflies and moths can be determined by coloring, markings on the wings and other characteristics. For instance, male monarch butterflies have black spots on their wings that females do not have.

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Full Answer

Caterpillars are one of four life stages for butterflies. Butterflies lay their eggs on plants, and it takes a few weeks for them to hatch as small caterpillars. Butterflies have a strong sense of taste, which they use before laying their eggs to discern whether a plant is a suitable food source.

Caterpillars eat constantly to grow into butterflies or moths. Upon maturing, caterpillars go into cocoons, where they transform. The lifespan of adult butterflies varies by species, from a week to almost a year. Butterflies can reproduce once or more per year; the number of broods varies by the climate of the butterflies' habitat. Many butterflies migrate over long distances, but some maintain territories where they chase away other species.

The gender of moths can be determined by color or size of antennae. Additionally, gender can be determined before moths hatch by counting the number of notches on the cocoon.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How long is a caterpillar in a cocoon?

    A:

    The third stage of a caterpillar’s life is the chrysalis, and it can vary from weeks to months or even years. The monarch butterfly lays dormant inside it’s chrysalis for approximately 2 weeks before coming out, while the anise swallowtail can take years to emerge.

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  • Q:

    What kind of caterpillar is black and yellow?

    A:

    Caterpillars that are characterized by black-and-yellow coloration are the redhumped caterpillar, the yellownecked caterpillar, the cloudless sulfur caterpillar, the spotted tussock moth caterpillar and the American dagger moth caterpillar. The American dagger moth caterpillar and the yellownecked caterpillar are found throughout the eastern United States.

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  • Q:

    How do you take care of a caterpillar?

    A:

    Caterpillars can survive in a large jar or cage equipped with a small food plant and twigs. Caterpillars eat only specific plants depending on their species, requiring more food as they grow larger. For hydration, caterpillars need their cages lightly sprayed with water once a day.

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  • Q:

    How long does a caterpillar stay in a cocoon?

    A:

    According to HowStuffWorks, the time required for a caterpillar to pupate (change into an adult butterfly or moth) averages about two weeks. However, the exact time that the caterpillar stays in the cocoon varies by species.

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