Insect Identification logo

Black Caterpillar Hunter (Calosoma sayi)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Black Caterpillar Hunter, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 2/5/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Black Caterpillar Hunter  
Picture of Black-Caterpillar-Hunter
Picture of Black-Caterpillar-Hunter Picture of Black-Caterpillar-Hunter

The Black Caterpillar Hunter is a roaming beetle that feeds on caterpillars at night and rests under rocks and debris by day.

More common in the southern U.S. states, the Black Caterpillar Beetle is a somewhat large beetle. It has ridges on its elytra (wing coverings) and small metallic, rust-colored spots that form rows down its back. It is a type of Ground Beetle and spends most of its time wandering the earth and trees for caterpillar prey and other edible insects. Large jaws help dispatch and devour the meal. Moth and butterfly caterpillars are the main diet of this beetle, and they have voracious appetites. This diet benefits the plant by removing leaf-eaters.

While constantly searching for food, they may run into their own predators. They can defend themselves in an attack by secreting a malodorous chemical. They are fast movers and can be difficult to follow. Females lay fertilized eggs in the soil. Grubs (larvae) overwinter underground, and adults are active from early spring through autumn. Lifespans vary from 2 to 3 years, which is long for a beetle. They are most active at night and will come to lights. Look for them in woodlands, coastlines, gardens, and prairies.

Picture of the Black Caterpillar Hunter
Picture of the Black Caterpillar Hunter

Black Caterpillar Hunter Information

Category: Beetle
Common Name: Black Caterpillar Hunter
Scientific Name: Calosoma sayi

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Coleoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Carabidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Calosoma
       Arrow graphic Species: sayi

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 25 mm to 28 mm (0.975 inches to 1.092 inches)
Identifying Colors: black, red, orange
Additional Descriptors: metallic, spots, lines, ruby, rust, gold, south

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): EASTERN NORTH AMERICA ONLY: Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska;New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; British Columbia; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

Images Gallery


BugFinder: What is it?