Thistle caterpillar: Description

Thistle caterpillar: Lateral [top], dorsal [center], and close-up [bottom] view of the thistle caterpillar, Vanessa cardui.Thistle caterpillar: Lateral [top], dorsal [center], and close-up [bottom] view of the thistle caterpillar, Vanessa cardui. (Photos Marlin E. Rice)

The thistle caterpillar, Vanessa cardui, is covered in branching spines making for a conspicuous character for this pest. As an adult, this caterpillar is known as the painted lady butterfly.