Where have all my caterpillars gone?

This morning we had up to 20 caterpillars of various sizes, esp 2 big ones almost ready to pupate, but when we came home this afternoon we could only find 2 little babies! It has been a hot afternoon at about 26 degrees celcius would this make a difference? Or just what has happened?

Karen says:
It could have been a couple of things. First of all, I have watched out my window as the birds (Cardinals) "chow down" on my monarch caterpillars. I know that the toxins from the milkweed are suppose to make the caterpillars taste terrible and make the birds sick, but my cardinals seem to love them!

The other thing it could be is that you said the caterpillars looked ready to pupate. Usually the caterpillars do leave the milkweed and wander off to pupate, so maybe that's what happened.

Comments for Where have all my caterpillars gone?

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by: Anonymous

I have seen ants attack young caterpillars. And I'm pretty sure lizards hunt them too—we had one going crazy to get through the window to 3 young caterpillars feasting away on a windowsill milkweed bouquet.

by: Anonymous

Wasp are terrible. When I see wasp in my garden, I know to look for cats. I bring them indoors, and just bring milkweed clippings in to them.

Disappearing caterpillars
by: Linda

I got sick of losing caterpillars so built quite a nice netted house for them. We caught the adults who laid eggs etc and tried to protect them in all stages. Problem was, I couldn't find a way to keep all threats out. Insects came in on the plants we brought in, under the netting, through the cracks etc. I finally found nice fat spiders, lizards, even toads. The same thing just happened to me again and I am now trying to figure out what is eating the caterpillars eggs. It is very difficult to keep all the predators out when they see an easy lunch. Just keep looking. The one that took care of most of my caterpillars in record time was a small lizard. I had to sit quite a while until the little guy finally stuck his head in for more lunch. I grabbed him and put him in another garden to eat the bugs I didn't want in that garden. Can't blame the guy for trying.

Lizards and wasps eating monarch caterpillars
by: Karen

We live in south Florida and recently planted a butterfly garden. We have several milkweed plants and were delighted to see monarch butterflies fluttering around our plants. In no time, we found eggs that eventually grew into little caterpillars. We were surprised to see the large number of lizards crawling on the milkweed and eating the caterpillars. We thought that the caterpillars eating the milkweed would be toxic to the lizards. Also, wasps were also buzzing around the milkweed and apparently stinging the caterpillars. We purchased a butterfly cage made out of netting to "save" a few monarch caterpillars on our patio.

I'm still searching for them.
by: LittleTree

I made an enclosure of netting for my black swallowtail caterpillars. We had 87 when we first found them hatched 14 days after the female laid the eggs. Later we counted 42 (mostly large) and now this morning we had 32 large ones. They have dill plants to thrive and eat but the temperatures are 95 here in NM. We have searched everywhere for the missing caterpillars and pupae...We have the netting to the ground and completely surrounding them so the birds cannot get in and they should not get out. We are mystified as to where they went? We looked inside the home and outside on all the other plants, ground, everywhere. We can't find them. What other explanation is there for their disappearance?

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