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In August, caterpillars of Lepidoptera species that produce a spring and autumn generation occur. During this time, caterpillars of butterflies and moths can be observed. Many overwinter and hatch only in the coming spring.

In a nutshell

  • in August caterpillars of moths and butterflies appear
  • species that produce two or more generations per year are particularly common
  • Caterpillars of single-generation moths may appear in August in warmer regions
  • a few species are considered crop pests


Typical for this group of butterflies is their activity under cover of darkness. Since their wings are perfectly camouflaged, the insects do not fold up when they are at rest. Their body appears short and thereby thickened. The feelers on the head are pointed, feathered or combed. Moth caterpillars try to scare off predators with bright warning colors.

Types from A - J

Evening Peacock

Source: Simon A. Eugster, Smerinthus ocellatus caterpillar on apple tree, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 3.0
  • scientific name: Smerinthus ocellata
  • Occurrence: Common in damp forests and less often in gardens
  • Forage plants: willow, poplar and cultivated apple
  • Hatching time: in the following year from mid-May to July
  • Generations: one, rarely two per year
  • Appearance: blue- or yellow-green with fine white dots and yellow side stripes
  • Special feature: the upper side of the body is significantly lighter than the underside
  • Size: up to 80 mm long

Notice: At first glance, the caterpillars, which can often be seen in August, can easily be mistaken for those of linden or poplar hawkmoths. The most striking distinguishing feature is the blue horn at the rear end of the body.

agate owl

  • scientific name: Phlogophora meticulosa
  • Occurrence: in various open landscapes
  • Fodder plants: sorrel, nettle, willow, chrysanthemum
  • Hatching time: after hibernation in May to July
  • Generations: two in one year
  • Appearance: variable from green to orange-brown to dark brown with a fine broken line on the back

Types of L - Z

Lime Hawkmoth

  • scientific name: Mimas tiliae
  • Occurrence: Widespread throughout Germany near deciduous forests
  • Fodder plants: mainly linden, but also cherry and birch or young fruit trees
  • Hatching time: after hibernation between the end of May and the beginning of July
  • Generations: one, in more southern regions two per year
  • Appearance: green to blue-grey with dark anal horn, later dark yellow diagonal stripes
  • Size: 55 to 65 millimeters
  • Danger of confusion: evening peacock butterfly and poplar hawk moth

willow borer

  • scientific name: cossus cossus
  • Occurrence: in alluvial forests and settlements
  • Fodder plants: eat into the wood of willows, poplars and fruit trees
  • Hatching time: after two to four hibernations between May and August
  • Generations: one per year
  • Appearance: Yellow with a dark red back and scattered white hairs
  • Size: up to 100 mm

cinnamon bear

  • scientific name: Phragmatobia fuliginosa
  • Occurrence: in meadows, pastures and wasteland, in forests
  • Fodder plants: blackberries, blackthorn, meadowsweet, buckhorn, dandelion
  • Hatching time: after hibernation from the beginning of April
  • Generations: two generations annually
  • Appearance: black-grey with light yellow longitudinal stripes on the back and dense tufts of hair
  • Size: up to 35 mm


These moths are mainly active during daylight or at dusk. Their folded form when at rest is typical. Its long and narrow body has two feelers on its head, which end in a club-shaped thickening. Caterpillars of the butterflies are usually less conspicuously colored than the larvae of moths.

Types from A - K

Large Cabbage White

  • scientific name: Pieris brassicae
  • Occurrence: throughout the country in meadows with flowering plants rich in nectar
  • Fodder plants: various types of cabbage and cruciferous plants
  • Hatching time: after about 14 days
  • Generations: two per year
  • Appearance: greenish yellow with irregularly shaped dark spots and white bristles
  • Size: up to 40 mm

Little fox

  • scientific name: Nymphalis urticae
  • Occurrence: Germany-wide in different habitats
  • Fodder plants: nettle
  • Hatching time: after 30 to 60 days
  • Generations: two a year in warmer regions
  • Appearance: Black with fine white spots and two broken yellow lateral lines
  • Size: about 30 millimeters

Little Cabbage White

  • scientific name: Pieris rapae
  • Occurrence: Extensive in different habitats
  • Fodder plants: cabbage and vegetables, nasturtium, rapeseed
  • Hatching time: after the winter from March
  • Generations: up to four per year
  • Appearance: dull or light green with yellow stripes and white dots and dense hairs
  • Size: up to 25 mm

Types of L - Z


  • scientific name: Araschnia levana
  • Occurrence: in moist tall herb corridors or sparse forests
  • Forage plants: stinging nettle, burdock chervil
  • Hatching time: next year between April and June
  • Generations: two each year
  • Appearance: finely spotted white with broken yellowish-white stripes
  • Size: about 25 millimeters

Notice: Maple caterpillars have clusters of thorns on each body segment. These are branched and give the larva a prickly appearance. These caterpillars are more common in August.

peacock butterfly

  • scientific name: Aglais io
  • Occurrence: in open forests, parks and gardens
  • Fodder plants: nettle
  • Hatching time: after two to three weeks
  • Generations: two a year
  • Appearance: black and white with fine white dots and black thorns
  • Size: up to 42 mm

frequently asked Questions

Which caterpillars are poisonous?

In the month of August there are no common caterpillars that cause health problems. The oak processionary moth, whose moths hatch in August, is feared. At this point, there is no longer any danger from this species either. Cinnamon bear caterpillars absorb toxic alkaloids from their food plants, rendering them inedible to predators. Since these are not part of the human diet, there are no known health side effects.

What symptoms can poisonous caterpillars cause?

It is usually the long hairs that spread in the air and can thus get onto the skin and mucous membranes. Many people show allergic reactions triggered by proteins. The hair of the oak processionary moth contains the protein thaumetopoein, which causes shortness of breath, itching and inflammation.

Are caterpillars dangerous for my plants?

Most species do not pose a threat to crops or ornamental plants. Some specimens occur seasonally in large populations, so that entire stands of plants can be destroyed. In the case of an infestation with several caterpillars of the willow borer, isolated trees can die. Between June and September, the generations of cabbage whites cause harvest losses in cabbage cultivation. The agate owl is an occasional pest of ornamental plants such as chrysanthemums, causing feeding damage to vines, vegetables and fruit trees.

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