What Predators Eat Caterpillars?

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Caterpillars eat constantly, and as they grow, they may shed their skin several times.
Caterpillars eat constantly, and as they grow, they may shed their skin several times. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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

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.

Many cultures find fried caterpillars a delicacy.
Many cultures find fried caterpillars a delicacy. (Image: Baerbel Schmidt/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Birds

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.

Some caterpillars, such as the walnut sphinx caterpillar, make a whistling sound to scare off predator birds.
Some caterpillars, such as the walnut sphinx caterpillar, make a whistling sound to scare off predator birds. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Ladybugs

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.

Ladybugs favor eating aphids, although they eat many other soft-bodied insects, including caterpillars.
Ladybugs favor eating aphids, although they eat many other soft-bodied insects, including caterpillars. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Yellow Jackets

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.

Before destroying wasp nests around the garden, consider their usefulness as caterpillar population controllers.
Before destroying wasp nests around the garden, consider their usefulness as caterpillar population controllers. (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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