The caterpillar is a larval stage of creatures of taxonomic order Lepidoptera. They are naturally slow-moving and rich in protein. They are low on the food chain and for this reason have many predators. They are an ideal food for birds. Caterpillars are found in almost all climates across the world; owing to this, their predators are abundant. Apart from birds, human beings, ladybird beetles and yellow jackets eat caterpillars.
Caterpillars are preyed on by a litany of birds such as warbler species and tanagers, depending on seasons. Caterpillars inhabit treetops, where they feed on leaves, or on the ground, where they feed on grass or other plants. Canopy-dwelling birds, hovering around the treetops to snatch their soft-bodied meals. Other birds that feed on caterpillars are robins and woodcocks; these normally feast on caterpillars that crawl on the ground. Caterpillars are easily caught due to their slowness as well as their bright colors that make them easily spotted by the birds. The European pied flycatcher is one bird in particular that feasts on caterpillars in Eurasia.
Caterpillars are a delicacy to people in parts of the world like Botswana in southern Africa, as well as in East-Asian countries like China. In fact, caterpillars are harvested daily in these places, owing to their high nutritional value. In comparison with beef, lentils and fish, caterpillars have more protein and fat.
Yellow jackets are predatory wasps of genera Vestula and Dolichovestula. All members of these genera are known as wasps in English-speaking countries outside of North America. According to the Gardening With the Helpful Gardener website, yellow jackets are notorious for carrying caterpillars to their nests as food for their young ones. Wasps are useful around the garden, as they oftentimes carry crawling caterpillars of virtually any size, thereby keeping them under control. However, yellow jackets feed on caterpillars mostly in the springs and early summers. As the season grows, their population sours and their diets change to other diets which are more sugar-laden.
Ladybird beetles are small, fairly round, bright-colored and spotted beetles who feed mostly on aphids. Ladybirds will eat other type of insects, notably caterpillars. Since aphids and caterpillars are harmful to plants, gardeners use ladybirds to biologically control them. Caterpillars have fairly soft bodies; ladybirds find them very soft to munch, particularly small ones.
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Kendal Elizabeth has been a professional writer and editor since 2001. She has specialized in writing pet-related topics, home decor and gardening. Her work has appeared on several online and offline publication. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with a minor in marine biology from Cornell University.