What a caterpillar eats depends on what type of caterpillar you are talking about. There are many different types of caterpillars which become different butterflies. Some caterpillars eat only one type of host plant, while others can eat a variety of vegetation.

If you want a particular butterfly to visit your garden, you must make the food that the caterpillar (which will become the butterfly) available. Learn what your caterpillar likes and plant more of that plant in your yard.

What Does a Caterpillar Eat?

The American Copper caterpillar eats curly dock, mountain sorrel, and sheep sorrel.
The American Painted Lady caterpillar eats everlastings and daiseys.
The Anise Swallowtail caterpillar eats anise, carrot, dill, fennel, and parsley.
The Arctic Blue caterpillar eats blueberry, diapensia, rock-jasmine, and shooting star.
The Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillar eats false foxglove, plantain, turtlehead, and white ash.
The Buckeye caterpillar eats plantain, snapdragon, stonecrop, and verbena.
The Cabbage White caterpillar eats cabbage, crucifers, mustards, and nasturtiums.
The Checkered White caterpillar eats crucifers and cleome.
The Clouded Sulphur caterpillar eats legumes.
The Cloudless Sulphur caterpillar eats clovers, senna, and legumes.
The Dogface caterpillar eats clover, false indigo, leadplant, lupine, and vetch.
The Dotted Blue caterpillar eats different species of buckwheat.
The Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar eats carrot, dill, fennel, parsley, and rue.
The Eastern-Tailed Blue eats legumes.
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar eats the leaves of many trees and shrubs.
The Giant Swallowtail caterpillar eats citrus, hop tree, prickly ash, and rue.
The Gray Hairstreak caterpillar eats cotton, mallows, mints, legumes, and strawberries.
The Great Purple hairstreak caterpillar eats mistletoes.
The Great Spangles Fritillary caterpillar eats violets.
The Green Comma caterpillar eats azalea, birch, rhododendron, and willow.
The Gulf Fritillary caterpillar eats passionflower.
The Malachite caterpillar eats yerba papagayo.
The Meadow Fritillary caterpillar eats violets.
The Monarch caterpillar eats milkweed.
The Mourning Cloak caterpillar eats elm, poplar, and willow.
The Orange Sulphur caterpillar eats alfalfa, lupine, vetch, and white clover.
The Painted Lady eats plants in the mallow family.
The Pearly Crescentspot eats asters.
The Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar eats dutchman's pipe, pipevines, and Virginia snakeroot.
The Question Mark caterpillar eats elm, hackberry, hop, and nettle.
The Red Admiral caterpillar eats false nettle, hop, and nettle.
The Red-Spotted Purple caterpillar eats apple, aspen, cherry, hawthorne, hornbeam, poplar, and willow.
The Silvery Blue eats legumes.
The Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar eats different bays, sassafras, and spicebush.
The Spring Azure caterpillar eats blueberry, California lilac, dogwoods, medowsweet, and viburnums.
The Square Spotted Blue caterpillar eats different species of buckwheat.
The Tailed Blue caterpillar eats beans, clovers, and peas (legumes).
The Variegated Fritillary caterpillar eats pansies, passionflowers, plantains, stonecrops, and violets.
The Viceroy caterpillar eats apple, aspen, cherry, plum, poplar, willow.
The Western Pygmy Blue caterpillar eats members of goosefoot family.
The Western-Tailed Blue Caterpillar eats legumes and vetches.
The Zebra Longwing caterpillar eats passionflower.
The Zebra Swallowtail caterpillar eats pawpaw.