Caterpillar Cannibalism UPDATE: Monarch butterfly caterpillar eats another for lunch

In a recent post on caterpillar cannibalism we invited others to share their testimonials of seeing caterpillars eat their brethren eggs or caterpillars.  Edith Smith of Shady Oak Butterfly Farm sent along the following photos that rival a science fiction movie.  Thanks, Edith for sharing the gory–but informative–photos.

Monarch Caterpillar cannibalism
Somebody’s hungry.  Monarch caterpillar eats its brother. Photo by Edith Smith, Shady Oak Butterfly Farm
Monarch cannibalism
Monarch caterpillar eats Monarch egg. PHoto by Edith Smith, Shady Oak Butterfly Farm
Monarch cannibalism
Monarch caterpillar eats Monarch chrysalis. Photo by Edith Smith, Shady Oak Butterfly Farm

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6 Responses

  1. Liz
    | Reply

    Definitely learned this lesson the hard way…. Went from 20 eggs in a space large enough and with enough food to sustain any that hatched, and now down to 10 caterpillars…. Remaining eggs and 1st instar cats seem to have been cannibalized 🙁
    Next collection will definitely be one egg in its own container.

  2. Sandra Meraz
    | Reply

    Last night I brought in four 4/5instar caterpillars and left them with four very large milkweed leaves. I thought they were inactive at night and planned to put them in my habitat with a potted plant in the morning. But now that the time has come, there are only three cats left and the lid was secured. Either one or all feasted on another. I’d never heard of this and have learned a very hard lesson.

  3. Ken Williams
    | Reply

    We have not 1 but 2 monarch cats in the garden!! I only hope there is enough food for them, as aphids have really
    decimated our milkweed.
    Ken Williams
    Austin

  4. D L Owen
    | Reply

    Perhaps a second edition of this classic text is needed:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Very-Hungry-Caterpillar-mini/dp/0399213015

    • Monika Maeckle
      | Reply

      Ha! Good one.

  5. Sue
    | Reply

    I also had a strange event this year. A 4th started eating a chrysalis despite having plenty of food. It was horrible.

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