The caterpillar stage is the main foraging stage. Gaining as much weight as possible is the only work a caterpillar has. The feeding periods are only interupted by digestion breaks. The caterpillars body is especially adapted for taking up large amounts of food. The gut makes up for about 15% of the body weight.
hatching caterpillar of gypsy moth young caterpillars of cabbage moth
The foraging behaviour varies from specie to specie. Not all caterpillars feed on leaves. Some will feed on textiles, like the clothes moth, for example. The daily food intake is about 35% of the caterpillars weight. In relation, a human being would have to eat almost 30 kg (67 lbs.) of food every day.
young caterpillar of gypsy moth
Many species are very queasily in choosing their menu, others will feed on most anything. These may easily be bred on artificial food, as you can see on the picture below.

This cake is made of milled wheat germ, supplemented with vitamins, proteins and minerals. On such a diet I am able to breed caterpillars the whole year round. This makes me independent from vegetation periods of the caterpillars natural food source.

caterpillar of cabbage moth on artificial food


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