Monarch caterpillars on a milkweed plant.

Wasps will Eat Monarch Caterpillars

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Lifecycle of the Monarch butterfly

If you’ve been following my blog posts on my Monarch butterfly journey, you know that I have had a lot of success in raising and releasing butterflies over the last year.

Raising Monarch Butterflies

Part of that success has been attributed to my butterfly house that serves to protect the cats from the world, and part of that success has been dumb luck. My butterfly house is a screened in area that is dropped over a large planter with milkweed plants, but I also have some long planters where I keep small plants that I am growing or have bought to replace eaten plants. I also have another planter with some larger, mature plants that I get seeds from.

The process usually involves letting the butterfly lay eggs and then culling some of the eggs and placing them in the container. I only keep what I know I can feed; that hasn’t meant I haven’t had to make emergency runs!

These size Monarch caterpillars are food to wasps.

Last fall, I decided to let them do their own thing and stopped harvesting the eggs because the winter was coming. I cut my milkweed down to short stalks and walked away. That didn’t stop industrious mother monarchs from finding spots to drop eggs. This will sound awful, but I knew that little wasps liked to dine on the eggs, so I did nothing to stop Mother Nature from taking its course.

Keeping Monarch Caterpillars Safe

I didn’t know that bigger wasps would eat 1-inch caterpillars like they were popcorn until I saw it first hand. I was under the (wrong) assumption that nothing ate the cats once they got some size on them. I had to look it up because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but here is a post that talks about wasps eating Monarch caterpillars.

There is a video included in that post, but I am going to spare you the photos that I took of the carnage.

Suffice it to say, Monarch caterpillars are not safe when there’s a wasp around. It doesn’t mean that I will go back to trying to protect all Monarch caterpillars, but it does mean that a few of the chosen ones will make it to the enclosure.

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