Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In the Butterfy Garden: Caterpillar Predators

Customers often tell me that caterpillars they've been watching have suddenly disappeared and they wonder what could have happened to them. Sometimes they've just grown up and have gone off to pupate. But often they have become a victim of predators. Birds, of course, love a nice tasty caterpillar, but many smaller critters are predators as well. I recently captured two such predators with my camera.

This is a paper wasp devouring a monarch caterpillar. . . .
Wasp killing caterpillar

And this is what's left of a monarch caterpillar after a wasp is through with it:
Caterpillar after wasp attack

Lizards (or anoles as most of our lizards are appropriately called) eat butterfly eggs and caterpillars. Here is a lizard with an adult butterfly. It was at the end of it's life and was struggling on the sidewalk. I could see the lizard eyeing it and then grab it. It was a pretty heavy load for the lizard so I had time to run get my camera and snap this picture just before the poor butterfly was carried into the brush:
Lizzard catching swallowtail