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What Do Caterpillars Eat: Top 10 Things They Consume

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What do caterpillars eat? Caterpillars have an enjoyable diet, including greens as well as other ready meals. The caterpillar offspring tend to have food plants as they hatch out of their eggs. Snacking on processed food, as shown in fiction films, is not their primary choice. But, there are always some exceptions to the respective chances of survival.

Are Butterflies and Moths Related?

Butterflies & Larvae
Photo by Miriam Fischer from Pexels / Copyright 2021

Butterflies, as well as moths, have a sort of evolutionary relationship. According to researchers, all butterflies share a common ancestor and are related to a micro moth. The monarch caterpillar is all basically of the Northern US and Southern Canadian region.

What to Feed Your Caterpillars?

 Caterpillar feeding on plants
Photo by Dawn Brown from Pexels / copyright 2021

Caterpillars are exciting creatures with peculiar eating habits that will surprise you. They love eating garden greens. Some caterpillars even feed on unimaginable plants such as ferns and mosses as well.

Do you want to know what do caterpillars eat? Here is a list of 10 different and exciting things they feed on:

1. Leaves

Caterpillar eating leaves
Photo by tasslo. studio from Shutterstock / copyright 2021

Most species of caterpillars are vegan and feed abundantly on whole plants. Caterpillars mainly eat leaves to quench their thirst and fulfill their water requirements. Unlike other insects, caterpillars do not drink water. Instead, they feed on leaves by chewing them. They do so because leaves are the “kitchen” of a plant, and all the required components needed for photosynthesis, including water, are stored in the leaves of a plant.

2. Flowers

Caterpillar eating flowey
Photo by Vera Larina from Shutterstock / copyright 2021

For some caterpillar species, leaves aren’t just enough, and they also feed on the flowers of a plant, including petals, buds, seeds, pollen, and more. Notably, the Star-wort caterpillar enjoys munching on the flowers and seeds.

3. Honeycomb

Honeycomb
Photo by solod_sha from Pexels / copyright 2021

Caterpillars, especially the Wax Moth caterpillar, invade hives, sometimes destroying them to lay their eggs. Thus, caterpillars do have a sweet tooth and feed on things such as honeycomb too.

4. Hair / Fur / Feathers

Caterpillar eating wool
Photo from BiosWikis / copyright 2021

Not all, but some species of caterpillars eat fur, hair, and feathers. These caterpillars are regularly found in houses and feed on natural animal fibers, including dirty wool.

5. Grass

Wild grasses
Photo from Pxfuel / copyright 2021

Grasses are widely available and most easy to find all around. Some species choose the easy way and feed on wild grasses for nourishment.

6. Bark and Twigs

Twigs
Photo by itchydogimages from Flickr / copyright 2021

There are caterpillars like the ones of the Lunar Hornet Moth who feed on living wood. Despite that, these caterpillars do not cause much harm to the trees.

7. Each other

Cannibalist caterpillars
GIF by Jose Bernardo Navarrete

There is quite a misconception among people that caterpillars are all vegan. Instead, we also have carnivorous caterpillars who also feed on other moth caterpillars of their kind. These caterpillars eat leaves much of the time but can happily swap their mates if given the opportunity.

8. Red Ants

Red ant
Photo by Pranav Lal from Pexels / copyright 2021

Caterpillars also show an unusual life cycle that relies on a specific species of red ants, huge blue butterflies. These caterpillars feed on flowers when they are young and eventually drop to the ground, leading unwitting ants to carry them back to their nests. They do this by releasing a scent that encourages these red ants to do so. Once the red ants themselves have the caterpillars to their nests, they feed on ant grubs before pupating underground and crawl up out before expanding their wings.

9. Animal Waste

Dead mouse
Photo by Sunnylion from Dreamstime / copyright 2021

Some species of caterpillars, such as the Skin Moth caterpillars, play the roles of a scavenger and pure nature by happily chewing the skins of dead owl pellets, birds, mice, and guano in birds’ nests.

10. Alder Buckthorn

Alder Buckthorn
Photo by Robert Biedermann from Shutterstock / copyright 2021

One of the most favorite food of caterpillars, the Alder Buckthorn tree, is a tall shrub. Caterpillars love eating this beautiful native tree. Alder Buckthorn does not have thorns. They bear star-shaped flowers with purple-brown twigs.

Check out interesting facts about caterpillars here

What do Caterpillars Eat: Best Host Plants

What do caterpillars eat
Photo by Lady Emillia from Pexels / copyright 2021

What do caterpillars eat? Butterfly caterpillars eat various host plants respective to every caterpillar feeding on or preferring a specific species. Depending on the region and climatic conditions, caterpillars are attracted by a specific determined category of plants to eat.

Host plants can vary from region to region and country to country. The changes may also depend upon the types of soil found in a particular area or its pH.

Therefore, research is necessary to attract a variety of butterflies to lay eggs and hatch to caterpillars. Thus, when you offer the perfect environment for them to live in, naturally, your caterpillar garden will be a success. Most caterpillars of different species will quickly eat food from several food plants, including apple leaves, oak leaves, dead leaves, tree trunks, and more.

Caterpillar food should never be processed. Many caterpillars, native to a specific area, only feed on the native plants available there. They tend to prefer naturally available ones. Some other species of caterpillars eat lettuce and natural animal fibers.

The trees or plants these young caterpillars feed on, called host plants, include other insects. The most common host plant that monarch caterpillars love to munch is the milkweed plant. There are widespread species of caterpillars who love trees and feed on them until the larvae crack open to a beautiful and dazzling butterfly.

 Plant Types Liked by Caterpillars:

Caterpillar feeding in flower buds
Photo by Charles Haacker from Pexels / copyright 2021

Depending on the butterfly and moth species, what do caterpillars eat? Hungry caterpillars feed on the following plant species. Garden overgrow may also increase your chances of creating a new/different world for caterpillars of a kind.

Tiny moths also lay their eggs by hiding in household goods or furniture, old clothing consignment shops, and more. Other caterpillars like pantry moths can even lay eggs in foods like dried fruit, flour cereal, and more.

Learn about excellent reasons to visit National Parks here. 

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