Hackberry Caterpillars

Hackberry trees (Celtis spp.) Are this emperor caterpillar’s host plants. These green caterpillars feed on the leaves and developed shoots of trees but do not cause extensive damage in most cases. Also known as Asterocampa celtis, the hackberry emperor is the hackberry butterfly’s larval form. In its butterfly type, the hackberry emperor feeds on tree sap, dung fruit, carrion and sometimes flower nectar.

Life Cycle

The entire life cycle of emperor caterpillars starts with eggs laid on the underside of tree leaves. In most areas butterflies lay their eggs during the spring and again in the fall. After hatching from their eggs, the hackberry emperor matures over the span of 3 stages of growth on the underside of the foliage. During the phase of maturation, the hackberry emperor creates a chrysalis in. Hackberry emperors that hatch spend the winter inside curled leaves or around the floor and during the fall turn brown in color, and they form a chrysalis during the spring.


The caterpillar is bright green with 2 long, parallel yellow stripes on its back that stretch from head to tail. The body is usually covered with brief bumps which have a yellow color. The caterpillar measures roughly 1.5 inches in length using a pair of brief horn-like protrusions at each end. The emperor’s eggs are laid individually or in clusters on the underside of leaves. Even the eggs of this emperor are small with a white color and a shape with ridges.


Its eggs and the hackberry emperor caterpillar are located on the underside of plant leaves. The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of tender new growth along with these trees. Caterpillars in their pupal form create a dark or light green chrysalis attached using a patch of white silk to the underside of leaves. In most cases hackberry caterpillars are present in small numbers on each tree.


Caterpillars are rarely present in sufficient quantities to undermine a hackberry tree that is wholesome. Cleaning leaves around the tree during winter and the fall is an effective method for limiting the population of caterpillars which are using your tree as a host. Caterpillars controlled utilizing an appropriate pesticide or can easily be removed by hand. Consult a landscaping or pest-control specialist to determine the method for applying them, in addition to the chemicals that are legal to use in your area When there is a significant infestation in your hackberry tree.

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