The caterpillar is the larval form of a moth. Moths are insects that, before reaching their adult form, undergo a process of metamorphosis, changing their appearance and mode of subsistence several times during their life cycle. The most well known members of the order Lepidoptera are butterflies but more than 150,000 species of Lepidoptera exist and are spread throughout the world. When a moth egg hatches s caterpillar is born. The caterpillar has a soft, worm-like body that is covered by an outer layer called the integument. As it grows, the caterpillar changes its integument through a process called molting.
The integument is protected by hairs, which have sensory function and sometimes have stinging cells. It is divided into small segments in order to allow the caterpillar to flex as it moves. The body of the caterpillar is divided into 3 regions: the head, the thorax and the abdomen. Located on its head are 6 pairs of eyes, small antennae, and powerful jaws for crushing food. The caterpillar has 8 pairs of legs: there are 3 pairs of legs that are located in the thorax, which grabs food. The caterpillar uses its other 5 legs to move. The caterpillar is very voracious. It typically feeds on leaves, but some species feed by digging a small tunnel inside of a fruit or stem of a plant, such as corn. Other caterpillars feed on wood. The caterpillar is prey to birds, reptiles, and other insects. To defend itself, it camouflages its appearance with the color of the leaves or it takes the form of flowers or small branches. Some species produce stinging secretions. Once it reaches the end of the larval stage, the caterpillar begins a new metamorphosis called chrysalis or pupa. It stops feeding and enters an idle state during which it acquires wings, legs and antennae and is transformed into an adult insect.
The caterpillar is traditionally considered to be the symbol of transformation and rebirth. The English writer Lewis Carroll said that the caterpillar represents a contradiction. In his novel Alice in Wonderland, the character of the blue caterpillar contradicts and disagrees with Alice many times. He himself, only being in his provisional form, is waiting to be transformed into butterfly. This does not provide the small interlocutor with any definitive certainty.