Do Monarch Caterpillars Hide During The Day?

Butterflies usually hide at night and are active in daylight because they need warmth to move their muscles and can see better in the daytime. People often wonder what monarch caterpillars do during the day and at night because different species show different behavior.

Do Monarch Caterpillars Hide During The Day? Monarch caterpillars are usually active during the daytime, but they can hide due to various reasons, such as predation, strong wind, overheating on hot summer days, finding a secure place to enter the pupa stage, and heavy rainfall. They remain inactive at night and roost on their host plant and dense vegetation around their habitat.

They have a distinct appearance, such as they can easily be distinguished if you find them in the flower gardens feeding on their host plant. They have white, yellow, and black markings on their long bodies and are seen eating the leaves of milkweed plants.

Are monarch caterpillars diurnal or nocturnal?

Monarch caterpillars are diurnal and are active during the daytime on their host plants. They are less active and usually roost at night because of their natural adaptation and instinctive behavior to take rest as darkness prevails.

I have built a beautiful flower garden in my farmhouse and grew many milkweed plants to attract monarch butterflies.

They often visit my place and lay eggs on the milkweed plants. I saw many monarch caterpillars growing and feeding on their host plants in the daylight.

However, I occasionally see them crawling on the milkweed leaves and around the plant at night. It shows they are diurnal and prefer to remain active in the daytime.

Moreover, my friend told me they can eat the milkweed leaves if they are hungry at night because they do not sleep but become less active or roost when it is dark.

Why monarch caterpillars usually do not hide during the day?

They do not hide in the daytime and remain more active in the morning and before sunset. They eat a lot during their active duration and need a lot of nutrients.

Therefore, they are observed feeding and crawling on the milkweed unless the situations are unfavorable, which causes them to hide.

Moreover, my uncle has raised many monarch butterflies and told me a few fascinating facts about these beautiful creatures.

He also told me about the monarch caterpillars and their feeding behaviors. He said the milkweed produces more nectar in the daytime, and the plant becomes less active at night.

Caterpillars need fresh and healthy leaves to grow and increase their size. Therefore, they remain active in the daylight and do not hide during these peak hours.

In what situations do monarch caterpillars hide during the day?

Caterpillars face many challenges in their natural habitats and behave according to the circumstances in their surroundings.


Different predators in the wild and natural habitats are willing to attack and eat the caterpillars to get nutrients and energy.

The monarch caterpillars are poisonous and cause health problems to predators if they consume them and avoid eating them in the future. It is better that you set up a safe habitat for them.

However, some predators are adapted to this poison and eat them anyway. Therefore, caterpillars hide under the leaves or move to other plants to camouflage and deter predators.

They use their body colors to mix with the surroundings and hide in vegetation as a survival strategy to protect themselves. You can also use various methods to protect them from predators.

Strong wind

A few days ago, I was enjoying the beautiful weather and strong wind in my yard. I suddenly remembered the monarch caterpillars on the milkweed leaves and went to see them because the weather was not suitable for them.

I searched for them and did find them on the leaves. I became worried and suddenly turned the leaf to find them.

I was astounded to see these beautiful and colorful crawling creatures hiding from the harsh weather on the underside of the leaves.

They adhered their bodies on the underside of the leaves to avoid falling and blowing with the wind. I was impressed with their defensive technique against unfavorable environmental conditions.

Overheating in hot summer

They need warmth to grow and crawl, but the excessive heating on hot summer days causes them to hide in shady areas to maintain their body temperature.

The black bands or strips on their bodies absorb more heat from the direct sunlight and cause an increase in their body temperature.

Overheating or direct sunlight for many hours can cause death, and they die without completing the metamorphosis.

Therefore, they can hide under the leaves or at the vegetation base in the daylight to control their body temperature in shady areas.

My neighbor told me he saw a monarch caterpillar covering itself in the milkweed leaves in the hot summer months when the external temperature is unbearable for humans and animals.

He said they usually feed freely on the milkweed leaves in the early morning and after the noon peak hours when the sun is setting and the temperature is not very high.

Moreover, he told me that he also hides during the day in dense vegetation on the underside of leaves in cold weather conditions and regulates their inner body temperature.

Entering pupa phase

They usually do not pupate on the host plant and find a safe place to go and form chrysalis. They can hide during the daytime if ready to enter the next life stage and enclose themselves in chrysalis.

They travel and find a hidden and calm place to hang in the hard outer covering. The pupa is prone to predation by many insects and birds, so the caterpillar hides in secure sites until it completes the developing process.

Once, I saw a monarch chrysalis hiding on the backside of my house and hanging from the cleome plant with a silken thread.

Moreover, I studied that they also find a place inside the dense vegetation or the thick plant leaves to form a chrysalis and hide to prevent predator attacks.

Heavy rain

Rain is an unpredictable weather alarm that causes problems for insects and their little eggs or babies. Monarch caterpillars face challenges due to heavy and unexpected rainfall around their habitat. They need air and suitable conditions to stay alive.

They can fall on the ground and get drowned in heavy rain. Therefore, they crawl up the plant and hide inside the leaves to protect themselves from harsh situations.

They seek a secure shelter in such weather conditions, use the prolegs on their rear sides to grasp the leaves or vegetation, and prevent injuries or accidents.

Metabolize food

These caterpillars do not eat all the time and feed from time to time when they metabolize the food. They are ready again to consume more milkweed leaves.

They rest after they feed and their stomach is full. They usually move to the underside of the leaves or to another plant when resting and done with eating for the time being.

You often observe them roosting in the dense vegetation or leaves during the daytime and crawling on the upper side of the leaves when hungry.

Different caterpillars show varying behavior and time duration for resting and metabolizing food. For example, the monarch caterpillars in my garden usually rest and move on the other side of the leaves for 20-30 minutes and then emerge again to feed.

They need to rest and allow their digestive system to process the consumed food and make space for more food after metabolizing it. The time also depends on the caterpillar instar stage, as the younger ones cannot live longer without eating.