Do Caterpillars Come Out at Night? {How You Can Find Them Faster}

Are caterpillars nocturnal? Do Caterpillars Come Out at Night?

Where are they hiding? What are they doing at night and where do they sleep?

Caterpillars are fascinating, but also pests in planted gardens. In this article, we’ll find out the answer to the question, Do Caterpillars Come Out at Night?

Do Caterpillars Come Out at Night?

Yes and no. Caterpillars are either hiding, napping or feeding off host plants. Through the night, they are often hiding under leaves or clinging to the stem of a plant. They are trying to avoid being detected by predators like birds that could eat them with one gulp.

Caterpillars at night are seen feeding in between periods of rest. Caterpillars are eating machines that will munch on houseplants as long as they are undetected.

Caterpillars can do image many gardens with their hungry appetite. Many of them feed during the night.

Do Caterpillars Sleep?

The type of sleep that a caterpillar does is more related to napping than actual unconsciousness. This is because their rest could be only 10 minutes long or a few hours.

Most of the time they are resting in between feeding sessions. They will find different spaces on plants to rest during different stages in their life cycle.

Just before metamorphosis into a butterfly, caterpillars need to find a safe place maybe in the center of the plant to rest or sleep. At this point, caterpillars will not come out at night.

Are Caterpillars Nocturnal?

Caterpillars can be seen implementing nocturnal tendencies where they’re active during the night and sleeping during the day. This doesn’t mean that you won’t notice the opposite either.

Caterpillars are opportunistically going to feed on a host plant at anytime of the day. This is the stage in their life cycle where they have to eat as much as possible.

Different species of caterpillars are active during the daytime more than others.

Where Does a Caterpillar Sleep?

A caterpillar can try to find a location on a plant that is hard for predators to notice them. Common locations where you can find caterpillars are:

  • A rolled-up leaf 
  • the underside of a leaf
  • tightly clinging to the center of a plant 

When caterpillars are feeding, they are trying to hide within shrubs, in trees or other areas where they are sheltered from predators who are flying above and looking closely for an easy meal.

Once a caterpillar is approaching the stage of metamorphosis, it is going to begin to find the most secure place to fully rest in a cocoon until it is time to emerge as a butterfly.

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Do Caterpillars Ever Sleep?

Yes. During the life cycle of a butterfly, the caterpillar stage is the one where they eat the most. Eating takes precedence over sleeping. Caterpillars do sleep, but it is more like a nap than an actual night of rest.

Many species of caterpillars are more active during the night than others. Any caterpillar would prefer food over rest. The length of time that a caterpillar sleeps could last only 10 minutes in between feeding sessions.

Sometimes it can last a few hours. The final rest is when the caterpillar rolls up into a cocoon and finally emerges as a butterfly once this stage of their life cycle is complete.

Where Do Caterpillars Hide During The Day?

Here are the following locations where you may find caterpillars:

  • underside of leaves
  • rolled up leaves
  • between blades of grass
  • on trees bark and branches
  • in piles of decaying leaves

It’s a fun activity for many children to look for caterpillars in a garden. Unfortunately these caterpillars belong to a category of pests because of the damage they can do to our prized plants.

They can hide on the underside of leaves or in between rolled-up leaves. Look for caterpillars and shrubs or inside trees. During the day many caterpillars like to rest and eat more during the night.

You can find them sheltering themselves in between blades of grass or on leaves. Sometimes they cling to stems and hope to not be found by predators.

Caterpillars are found mostly near wooded areas. They can also hide and piles are stacks of leaves that are decayed.

Do Caterpillars Hide Somewhere at Night?

Caterpillars are always trying to remain undetected. They are easy meals for prey from above. Birds are constantly on the lookout for caterpillars. Caterpillars can wander off their host plants on their final destination to complete their chrysalis.

Before this, they are deeply focused on the feeding and growth stage. At this point they will come out at night to feed as much as possible on their host plant.

A caterpillar on the move is either looking for a new host plant after doing most of the damage to the one that they have been feeding on or searching for the best place to make their chrysalis.

What do Caterpillars Need to Survive?

A caterpillar needs to be opportunistic.

  • They need to find food from a host plant.
  • They need to protect themselves from drowning in water.
  • Ventilation must be enough to keep them aerated and able to become a chrysalis.

Caterpillars will eat like machines in a non stop motion with a few rest periods in between when they find a host plant that is delivering them nutrition during this growth and feeding stage.

What Time of Year Are Caterpillars Most Active?

Caterpillars are mostly active during the summer season. This is because they spend most of the winter in chrysalis or cocoon and emerge out of it by the end of spring.

Butterflies who come out of the cocoon seek to lay eggs to begin this cycle once again. This is why it’s a good time to look for caterpillars in June and July.

Make an activity out of it with a class, group of children, summer camp, or neighborhood kids to help you find these caterpillars before they in feast on your garden and cause damage to many of your favorite plants.


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Jason Barrett

Hello, I'm Jason. I have 11 years of experience in dealing with pests. I try to provide you the best information that'll help you to make the pest control process easy & affordable