What Eats Butterflies?

There are many different creatures that make butterflies part of their diet.  While most humans can not even imagine attempting to eat a butterfly, there are many animals that need to make a meal out of a butterfly to survive.  

Some of the common predators of butterflies include but are certainly not limited to: wasps, ants, parasitic flies, birds, snakes, toads, rats, lizards, dragonflies and even monkeys!  A few of the other animals that are constantly adding butterflies onto their menu list are frogs and spiders. These predators eat butterflies as butterfly eggs, caterpillars and adult butterflies. 

 

Spider Eating Butterfly
Crab Spider has Caught a Butterfly. See How Well The Spider Was Camouflaged in the Flower?
Frog Eating Monarch Butterfly
This frog at Dow Gardens Butterfly House is enjoying a snack. Photo courtesy Ellen Lucy

Now, when it comes down to eating butterflies, there are two kinds of butterflies that these predators will consume: a good tasting butterfly or a bad tasting butterfly.  To keep from becoming a tasty snack, some butterflies have developed a bad taste to their bodies. Monarchs taste bad because the caterpillars have eaten milkweed. Once a bird tastes one, they don�t want to try another one. Another butterfly, called the Viceroy, tastes good but looks so much like a Monarch that birds won’t eat it.   

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One thing that may be surprising to a lot of people is that a few countries have butterflies on their menu for humans to order! While most of us are appalled to eat anything as beautiful as a butterfly, there are quite a few countries that see the butterfly as a delicacy.  Mexico, Africa and Southeast Asia are the few countries that find butterflies to be a great appetizer or dessert. 

Mantis Eating a Monarch
Mantis Eating a Monarch

So, if you are a caterpillar or butterfly, how do you keep from getting eaten? One great way is to have fake eyes to trick predators into thinking you are something else! Here’s some more pictures on the NYTimes site.

Blue Morpho
This butterfly has a pattern that looks like it has a big eye.
Hawkeye Moth Caterpillar
Hawkeye Moth Caterpillar
Butterfly on a Bush
Butterfly on a Bush

1 thought on “What Eats Butterflies?”

  1. I saw a cat playing and snacking on a butterfly!! Probably just had a nibble.. but I was shocked about who would eat butterflies … well, there you go, never thought of frogs etc

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