Ten of the Worlds Rarest Species of Caterpillars and Where to Find Them

These caterpillars might not be the most beautiful nor the most unusual, but they are the worlds rarest. But what might surprise you is just because the caterpillar is rare, it doesn’t necessarily mean the butterfly or moth is rare because it could be a miscount of species numbers or just the fact that some of these caterpillars are hard to see and indeed find, but not so much for their transformations. These are the rarest caterpillars in the world and some of them are so low in numbers, you could count them with your fingers…


 

Rosy Marsh Moth Caterpillar
Rosy Marsh Moth Caterpillar

Rosy Marsh Moth Caterpillar

On its last species count, it was down to just 123 individual caterpillars! While it is not so rare elsewhere in the world, here in the UK that is all the known caterpillars there are. But the good news is numbers and their environment are closely monitored.

Moroccan Caterpillar
Moroccan Caterpillar

Moroccan Caterpillar

You might think this species is pretty easy to find and count, but the main problem is tall reeds they like to consume, this means many of them drown trying to reach their food stocks in the first place and counting them is almost impossible due to their remote locations.

Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar
Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar

It is not often people find it hard to count elephants, but this Elephant caterpillar makes things almost impossible due to their randomness of both breeding and feeding. It seems like they just go where they want and when they want and this makes counting species numbers pretty difficult. So oddly this could be one of the worlds rarest caterpillars or people are just not looking in the right place!

Death's-head Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Death’s-head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Death’s-head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

This is the immortalised Death’s-head Hawkmoth caterpillar and with no little thanks to the movie Silence of the Lambs, this caterpillar is a much-prized collector’s item and sadly this has resulted in low numbers all around the world.

Large Heath Butterfly Caterpillar
Large Heath Butterfly Caterpillar

Large Heath Butterfly Caterpillar

Looking at the size of this caterpillar it is no wonder it is so hard to count, but the fact still remains that this was a once common caterpillar in the UK, but while still on the endangered list there are conservation efforts in place to get its numbers back up to a higher level.

Southern Flannel Moth Caterpillar
Southern Flannel Moth Caterpillar

Southern Flannel Moth Caterpillar

It might look like Donald Trumps wig, but it is also one of the worlds rarest (and probably fluffiest) caterpillars. Often called the woolly slug this wonderful creature is sadly dropping in numbers due to human activity increasing in their breeding and feeding grounds.

White-letter Hairstreak Caterpillar
White-letter Hairstreak Caterpillar

White-letter Hairstreak Caterpillar

It probably has the best name of any caterpillar in the world and yet it is also one of the most endangered. While conservation efforts are well underway to save this species its numbers have dropped by over 50% in the last few years.

Frosted Elfin Caterpillar
Frosted Elfin Caterpillar

Frosted Elfin Caterpillar

While they are not the most beautiful catapiallrs they are one of the worlds rarest. This is down to a drop in the amount of food the Caterpillars enjoy, but oddly their diet changes when they become butterflies meaning they are most likely to survive once they become one.

Lunar Hornet Moth Caterpillar
Lunar Hornet Moth Caterpillar

Lunar Hornet Moth Caterpillar

This might look like a boring, fat grub, but it is the caterpillar of the rare Lunar Hornet Moth and because it looks so much like a hornet (a large wasp) it is often killed or even poisoned by people not wanting them in the garden.

The St. Francis Satyr Caterpillar
The St. Francis Satyr Caterpillar

The St. Francis Satyr Caterpillar

This is one of the worlds rarest butterflies but that also means it is one of the worlds rarest caterpillars. Species numbers are thought to be in the hundreds only and that is worldwide, not just a local area. Let us hope the conservation efforts this species has received do a good job.

Sources Used…

  • https://naturalresources.wales/about-us/news-and-events/news/rosy-marsh-moth-survey-pr/?lang=en
  • https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rare_Moroccan_caterpillar_moth.jpg
  • https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/elephant-hawk-moth
  • https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2019-08-13/rare-caterpillars-immortalised-by-movie-silence-of-the-lambs-unearthed-in-somerset-back-garden/
  • https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2019-08-16/rare-caterpillars-at-chester-zoo-destined-for-the-wild/
  • https://io9.gizmodo.com/rare-caterpillar-resembles-donald-trumps-hair-489010765
  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-33760266
  • https://www.bayjournal.com/article/scientists_seek_to_elevate_rare_frosted_elfin_butterflys_numbers
  • https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/17749174.extremely-rare-hornet-moth-spotted-peasmarsh/
  • https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/who-can-identify-the-worlds-rarest-butterfly-98395171/
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