Do Caterpillars Need Water?

It’s fairly obvious that a caterpillar eats… And it eats a lot! We know this simply from the damage it does to a range of plants throughout the garden. But what about drinking? Do caterpillars require a drink? Do caterpillars need water, for example?

No, caterpillars do not need water, and they can receive enough fluid simply through the plant material they eat.

Caterpillars have to ensure they follow the best diet to grow to be healthy. Ultimately, the more nutrients and goodness they can consume, the more energy they’ll have which they can then put towards becoming a butterfly or moth.

However, they do not need additional water because plants are enough to provide them with fluids. Caterpillars will absorb water and other liquid from the plant material that they consume.

Do Caterpillars Drink?

We all need water for survival. This is why one may wonder about other animals and insects and their hydration needs. When it comes to caterpillars, they do not need to actively drink water.

A caterpillar that comes out of the eggs needs to eat well and consistently in order to grow and gain enough nutrients. Caterpillars are able to absorb the important nutrients from the plants they consume.

This doesn’t mean, however, that caterpillars do not drink water. It just means that they do not actively seek out water. If it rains then a caterpillar will absorb from water. Similarly, if you water the garden and some water is sitting in the crack of a leaf then a caterpillar may decide to consume it.

The important fact here is that caterpillars do not need to consume water for their survival.

Some species of caterpillars will need some extra moisture to prevent them from drying out. There are many species out there. Let us dive into a deeper look and know which ones need water and which do not:

Monarch Butterfly

A lot of people are aware of the monarch butterfly as it is well-known for its orange colour and black borders. These butterflies do not require water, but they get their moisture from the plants they consume.

Woolly Bear

This caterpillar gets its name because it is fluffy. The caterpillar does not need water because they get it by munching on the host plant.

Tomato Caterpillars

Tomato caterpillars require some additional moisture from the one they receive by consuming plants. They will get this from the fruits of the plant, rain and even when you water the plants.

Swallowtail Caterpillars 

You can recognise swallowtail caterpillars by the unique pattern they have. These caterpillars prefer to eat alone and get their moisture from the plants too!

Green Caterpillars

As their name suggests, the green caterpillars turn into green butterflies. These do not need additional moisture and can make do from the plants they consume. 

As you can see, generally speaking, a caterpillar can obtain enough liquid from the plant material they ingest without the need to actively look for a water source.

Which Water Do Caterpillars Drink?

We all require water and food for survival in one way or the other. Caterpillars get the water they need from the plants they consume. These insects do not need additional sources of water. They are capable of extracting any liquid content from the leaves that they eat.

Caterpillars will absorb enough water from the plants, so they do not require external water sources. In addition, caterpillars will take advantage of other sources of moisture like rain. 

Do Caterpillars Absorb Water from the Soil?

This is unlikely to be the case. In fact, it is rare to see caterpillars on the surface of the soil. There is no benefit to them from being in the soil. Instead, they will try and settle on a host plant where they can eat, absorb liquids, set their cocoon, grow into a butterfly and then lay their eggs or mate.

If a caterpillar finds a reliable source of food (and moisture) then there’s no reason for them to move elsewhere.


Like all animals and insects, Caterpillars require a good food and water source to grow healthily. These insects, however, do not need to actively drink water. They do not require a reliable water source nor do they rely on the rain to survive.

Caterpillars are known to absorb fluids from the plants they eat. In addition, caterpillars gain additional moisture from different sources of their environments, especially when it rains. There are still some species of caterpillars that need extra water.  

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