What Do Caterpillars Eat?

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Caterpillars are generally only able to feed on one type of plant, depending on the species of the butterfly. Find out how the monarch butterfly caterpillar only eats milkweed plants and how the yellow sulfur butterfly eats legume plants with information from an entomologist and insect specialist in this free video on caterpillars.

Part of the Video Series: Insect Information
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Video Transcript

I'm Mike Quinn. I've been an entomologist for twenty years and we're here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX talking about, "What do caterpillars eat?" Caterpillars have a close relationship with their food plant and typically they can only feed on one or only a few closely related plants. Classic examples are the monarch... only able to feed on members of the milkweed family. Golfredlary can only feed on passion vine and the yellow sulfur butterflies generally feed on plants in the legume family. So plants, leaves are the preferred part of the plant that most caterpillars feed on. A few caterpillars are actually predacious and those develop more quickly than those that feed on leaves and some butterflies feed on the woody parts of plants and they have a longer life cycle and those are some of the things that butterfly caterpillars feed on.

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