Caterpillars are targeted by groups of predators due to their slow-moving nature and high nutritional value. Predators in all levels of the food chain, including other insects, find caterpillars to be a tasty treat and an easy target. Due to the vast amount of caterpillars and their availability in nearly all climate and areas across the planet, their predators are just as vast.
Humans are a major caterpillar predators, especially in parts of Africa where caterpillars are harvested daily as a nutritional delicacy, according to Allison Frome of Friends of the Smithsonian National Zoo. They are often fried and eaten as snacks. Caterpillars contain a high amount of protein, fat and carbs, equaling the amounts in beef, fish, lentils and other beans.
As caterpillars munch on tree leaves, canopy-dwelling birds just wait for their soft-bodied meal to come straight to them in the treetops. These birds include several warbler species and tanagers, according to Signs of the Seasons. Birds such as robins and woodcocks choose caterpillars that crawl slowly on the ground. Birds find these creatures an easy treat to hunt, and due to their bright colors, caterpillars are just as easy for birds to find.
Ladybugs are often used in gardening as a positive bug to keep around since they eat caterpillars that can destroy garden plants. Ladybugs find their soft bodies easy to munch, but pick smaller species that are easier to capture and eat, according to Gardening with the Helpful Gardner.
Yellow Jackets are another insect that use caterpillars for food. While wasps don't eat the caterpillars themselves, they catch them and carry them back to their nests to feed to their young, according to the Helpful Gardener. Keeping wasps around a garden makes them a useful insect, and they often carry off slow-crawling caterpillars of just about any size to their nests.
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