Cover of The Book of Caterpillars

Edited by David G. James

The University of Chicago Press: 2017


Meet some of the world’s most wild, weird, and beautiful caterpillars. Using its own hairs, the lichen moth builds a basket around itself to stay protected during metamorphosis.

As the Red Helen caterpillar develops, its body starts to resemble a snake’s head. When threatened a red, forked appendage inflates from behind its own head, giving off an unpleasant odor.

Flaunting “flower-like tufts” of bright yellow hair along its green body, the Pale Tussock caterpillar sends a colorful warning to potential predators.

Editor David G. James, associate professor of entomology at Washington State University, introduces readers to the curious lives of caterpillars from egg to pupation to the natural wonder of metamorphosis in his latest work, The Book of Caterpillars.

Everyone from the youngest insect wranglers to more experienced naturalists can enjoy this beautifully designed book, which features more than 600 species from around the world and is divided into two sections: moth caterpillars and butterfly caterpillars.

Each page features full-color photographs of caterpillars, printed to reflect their actual sizes. Along with a description of the caterpillar, each page also includes information about the caterpillar’s range, habitat, host plants, a notable fact, and conservation status.

In many places around the world, the number of caterpillar species are dwindling due to habitat destruction, pesticides, climate change, and other environmental factors. Building awareness of caterpillar diversity, the photographs and stories also serve as a reminder of the vital role these insects play in the lives of other animals and earth’s ecosystem—especially as they transform from caterpillars into some of the planet’s most important pollinators.