Can a Caterpillar Die in the Cocoon?

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Caterpillars can die in the cocoon stage when certain insects pierce or chew through the cocoon in order to get to the pupa. Caterpillars are also vulnerable when entering and leaving the cocoon stage. Learn more about cocoon safety with information from an entomologist and insect specialist in this free video on cocoons.

Part of the Video Series: Insect Information
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Video Transcript

I'm Mike Quinn... been an entomologist for twenty years and we're here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX. I've been asked if caterpillars can die in the cocoon stage. They have some degree of protection with all the silk that's wrapped around them, but they are vulnerable and there's a lot of insects that have specific piercing, sucking mouth parts that can get in and break through, or chewing mouth parts that can get through the cocoon. And there's other parasites that have a long sharp ovipositor that they can insert through the pupil skin and parasitize the caterpillar so yes indeed butterfly... moth caterpillars can die in the cocoon stage. The other stressful time is going into the pupil stage and then emerging from it. Those are both times of vulnerability, so once they make it into the cocoon stage they're somewhat safe but they can die in the cocoon stage.

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