What Animals Eat Butterflies?

Butterflies are fragile and innocent creatures that are easy to prey on by many animals. They attract the animals because of their striking colors and easy access. They are prone to damage by various predators in different life stages, and around 10-20% of eggs complete the metamorphosis stages and become adults.

What Animals Eat Butterflies? Different animals eat butterflies, which includes various birds, spiders, frogs, toads, wasps, hornets, ants, snakes, lizards, chameleon, bats, mice, monkeys, cats, rodents, praying mantis, humans, and dragonflies. They use different hunting methods to attack and eat them.

They look attractive when they flap their wings and fly from one place to another. They captivate the attention of many people, animals, birds, and insects, and want to catch them. Moreover, different animals feed on them for various reasons, and some of these species are listed here.

Different bird species

Many birds are observed to eat butterflies if they encounter them during foraging.

These birds include Orioles, Robins, Warbles, Blue jays, Sparrows, Matins, Parrots, Tanagers, Mockingbirds, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Grosbeak.

Some birds actively seek these colorful flying creatures and ambush the prey, while others accidentally encounter them and decide to eat them to fill their stomach.

Not all species of these birds prefer to feed on butterflies because every species has personal preferences and adaptations to forage and feed.

Moreover, some birds catch them mid-air, while others eat them when feeding on the flower nectars or roosting in the vegetation.

In addition, Orioles are smart enough to catch them, open their body, and remove the toxic or poisonous parts before consuming them.

Some birds are intelligent and sharp enough to remember the warning colors of butterflies that are poisonous and avoid feeding them. For example, many birds avoid eating the monarch butterflies because of the milkweed toxins that cause health problems for these predators.

Spiders

Some spider species, such as Orb-weaver Spiders, are also known to eat butterflies, as they share the same habitat and are present in woodlands, fields, and yards.

They use their sticky silk web to trap these delicate flying creatures and inject the poison as soon as they garb them to paralyze butterflies and eat them.

Moreover, my friend told me that Giant house spiders, Forest spiders, Jumping spiders, Crab spiders, Lynx spiders, and Ground spiders can also attack small and large butterflies, depending on their own size and adaptations to hunt the prey.

Frogs and toads

Different amphibians can attack butterflies around their habitats because their primary diet consists of insects.

Different toads eat butterflies, such as American Toads, Common Toads, Cane Toads, Western Toads, Golden Toads, and Great Basin Spadefoot Toads.

They do not actively seek them because they prefer to hunt the easy prey near the ground but eat them if they roost around their habitat.

Moreover, I studied the species of frogs eating the butterflies, and came to know that American Bullfrog, Green Tree Frogs, and a few other species show this behavior to hunt these colorful flying species.

For example, American Bullfrogs are famous for their large bodies and exceptional hunting skills. They use their sticky tongues to grab the prey and consume it within a few seconds.

Wasps or hornets

Wasps are known as one of the worst enemies of butterflies.

My neighbor told me that different wasp species eat them, such as Common Wasps, Paper Wasps, Parasitoid Wasps, Polistes Wasps, German Wasps, and some more wasp species.

They use their sharp mandibles to catch the prey and chew them into pieces for easy consumption. He said they also love to eat the larvae or caterpillars of these flying insects, and some wasps are famous for parasitoids the caterpillars.

They lay eggs on the caterpillar or around the eggs, and the tiny parasitic wasps get inside the caterpillar’s body. Moreover, my neighbor explained that hornets can also attack and feed on butterflies.

For example, Asian hornets are desperate predators of many insects and can attack butterflies if they find them.

Ants

The back house ants, fire ants, Army ants, bullet ants, Argentine ants, and harvester ants are observed feeding on the butterfly eggs, dead pupa, and caterpillars.

They gather in large colonies around the food source. However, some ants also protect the caterpillars and feed on the sugary secretions they release.

Snakes

Butterflies are not the primary food source of snakes, but they are easy targets if feeding on the flower nectar. They also take flights, and snakes cannot catch them, especially the small-sized reptiles, while others climb the trees and catch them.

However, some snake species can attack and eat these flying insects, such as they ambush the prey and wait for them to get inside their proximity so they can catch them. They also eat the caterpillars on the dense vegetation.

For example, Vipera Berus (Common Adder), Eastern Garter Snake, Corn Snakes, Rattle Snakes, and some smaller snake species because they do not provide enough nutrients and energy to large-sized snakes.

Lizards and chameleons

Some lizard species also eat butterflies, such as Common Anole, Eastern Fence Lizards, Gila Monster, Green Iguana, Carolina Anole, Knight Anole, and Green Anole are famous for attacking and consuming butterflies.

They use their sticky tongues, camouflaging techniques, and hunting adaptation to catch the prey and eat without problems.

Moreover, my cousin told me that chameleons can also eat these bright and fascinating creatures if they encounter them while foraging because they are known to eat various insect species, as they can access food items up to 2 feet from them.

Bats

Bats can hunt the butterflies at night when they are resting on the plants and vegetation. They use echolocation to detect the location and distance of the prey and reach the spot to eat them.

They usually do not cross paths in the daytime because bats are nocturnal, and butterflies are diurnal.

Different insectivores bat species can eat butterflies, such as little brown bats, Mexican long-tongued bats, California leaf-nosed bats, Brown long-eared bats, Mexican free-tailed bats, and other large-sized bats that consume these flying insects. They use their sharp teeth to tear and eat them.

Mammals

Some mammals, such as monkeys, mice, cats, dogs, and rodents, can also be butterflies. Different rodents, monkeys, and mice eat them because some species have a bitter taste and are not healthy for these mammals.

For example, my uncle studied a lot about different mammals and told me that monkeys usually eat fruits. However, some species, like marmosets and tamarins, galagos, and tarsiers, can eat butterflies.

Moreover, cats and dogs do not like these insects due to the poisonous nature of monarch butterflies, but they love to follow them in the gardens and can also eat them.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis uses excellent camouflaging and hunting techniques to catch the butterflies. They can turn their head 180 degrees and mix in the surroundings to wait for the prey.

They can jump and use their spiky legs to land on the plants and vegetation.

For example, I studied that Chinese mantis is a large-sized praying mantis and can eat different butterfly species in large quantities.

Humans

Humans in different parts of the world eat butterflies, such as in Mexico, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the US Pacific Northwest.

They have been on the menu list of humans for many centuries, and they eat the caterpillars or the adult species as appetizers.

I was astounded to hear that because I did not know this before, as I always thought they contained poison and were harmful to consume.

Dragonflies

Some dragonfly species are known to feed on them, such as Common Whitetail Dragonflies, Green Darner Dragonflies, Common Hawkers, Great Pondhawk Dragonflies, and other large species that can eat them.

These dragonfly species are excellent flyers with fast speeds of around 30-35 mph and have 360-degree vision. They catch the butterflies in mid-air because they have exceptional maneuverability to adjust their flight and catch the prey.

They are excellent hunters, usually found in forests, woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, and ponds. They can consume many insects per day to get more energy and nutrients.

Related Articles:

Why do butterflies use hummingbird feeders?

How To Protect Monarch Caterpillars From Predators?