Insects Planet

Do Caterpillars Need Sunlight For Their Survival?

Those who have spent plenty of time in the garden know that caterpillars are a common sight in the summer months.

These little creatures are usually found munching away on leaves, seemingly unstoppable in their quest for food.

However, why is it that caterpillars are always spotted on a hot sunny day? is it coincidence or is it evidence that these insects need sunlight to survive?

Well, the truth is that caterpillars do not need sunlight in order to thrive! In fact, most species of caterpillars are nocturnal, meaning that they prefer to munch on leaves and other plants at night.

So Why Are Some Caterpillars Active In Daylight?

While many caterpillars prefer to sleep during the day, there are some species that are more active in daylight.

This is usually because caterpillars feed on plants that are called “long-day plants“, meaning that they only bloom and produce leaves when there is more sunlight available.

Some of these plants include dandelions, spinach, and “one of the caterpillar’s favorites lettuce” which are more plump and succulent when the sun is out.

As such, caterpillars that feed on these types of plants are more likely to be active in daylight.

So while it is true that caterpillars don’t need sunlight for their survival, they do benefit from being out and about during the day.

Do Caterpillars Prefer Being In The Sun Or Shade?

The life of a caterpillar is a simple one: eat, grow, and repeat. However, even such a straightforward existence can be complicated by the sun.

For many caterpillars, staying out of direct sunlight is a matter of survival. Caterpillars that do feed during the day mainly rely on the shade that the plants provide.

This will protect the caterpillar from harmful UV rays, allowing them to continue chowing down on leaves without getting burnt in the process.

As a result, most caterpillars will only come out to feed during the cooler hours of the day, when the sun is not as strong.

In addition, staying out of the sun also helps to prevent dehydration, as direct sunlight can quickly reduce the moisture in the caterpillar’s body causing it to dry out.

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Can Too Much Sunlight Be Fatal For Caterpillars?

While most caterpillars prefer to hang out in the shade, there are some species that can tolerate sunlight. However, even these species will eventually run into trouble if exposed to too much sun for too long.

Caterpillars That Are Exposed To Too Much Sunlight Can Cause:

  • Sunburn: If a caterpillar is exposed to too much sunlight for an extended period of time, it can suffer from sunburn. This can cause the caterpillar’s skin to become inflamed and irritated, making it difficult for them to move as freely.
  • Dry Skin: Caterpillars are incredibly sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. As such, prolonged exposure to the sun can quickly dry out their skin, which can be fatal if they don’t find shade.
  • Dehydration: In addition to burning their skin, too much sunlight can also lead to dehydration in caterpillars. This will quickly sap their energy and make it difficult for them to move around or stay active.
  • Starvation: Finally, prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to them not eating at all, which can cause them to starve and also become vulnerable to predators.

Is It Safe To Take One Indoors If The Sun Is Too Strong?

If you find a caterpillar out in the sun and are worried that it is too hot for them, then yes you can take it indoors, however, you need to remember that caterpillars are very delicate creatures.

Ideally, you should relocate the caterpillar to a shady area outside, where it can continue munching on leaves without getting burnt or dehydrated.

If you really need to bring them inside, then make sure that you put them in a jar with some leaves so they can eat. Make sure you mist the leaves first with water so the caterpillar can stay nice and hydrated.

Do not place the jar directly in direct sunlight, like one window sile as this will only cause them to overheat even faster.

Also, make sure there are plenty of air holes in the lid of the jar so that they have access to fresh air. Do check up on them periodically to make sure they’re still doing ok and aren’t struggling in their new environment.

Overall, if you really need to bring a caterpillar inside due to too much sun, just be very careful and take the necessary precautions to keep it safe and healthy.

By following these simple steps, you can help ensure a happy and healthy caterpillar!

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Do They Need Warmth?

Caterpillars don’t like the cold, but they also do not need to be in very warm conditions. In most cases, caterpillars will be able to thrive in the natural temperature of their environment, as long as it is not too extreme.

In fact, in the winter when the temperature drops caterpillars go into a type of hibernation called diapause, which allows them to survive the cold weather without needing any special warmth.

This typically happens with mid-size caterpillars that haven’t fully grown yet! When they go into hibernation their body functions decrease and their growth stops. Their growth won’t resume until the caterpillar wakes.

Where Is The Best Place To Put A Caterpillar Outside?

There are a few things that you should keep in mind when placing a caterpillar outside. The first is to make sure that they have access to plenty of shady areas, such as under trees or bushes.

This will help protect them from direct sunlight and will also allow them to stay cool during the day.

In addition, it’s also important to avoid placing a caterpillar near any predators, for example, near spider webs or ant hills.

Even spiders are known to feast on caterpillars from time to time, so it’s best to keep them away from these areas.

We do recommend that you place the caterpillar directly on a plant, ideally one with some nice juicy leaves this way they can begin to feed right away!


while caterpillars do not need sunlight for their survival, they can certainly benefit from being active during the day.

However, if exposed to too much sun for too long, these insects can face serious consequences such as sunburn, dehydration, and even starvation.

As such, it is important to provide your caterpillar with a cool and shady environment so that it can stay healthy and happy!

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