Birds do not eat migratory monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies are toxic to birds, but birds have learned not to eat them. When a bird eats a monarch butterfly, it gets sick and remembers not to eat another one.
Monarch butterflies have few predators in the United States because they taste bad for most animals. However, in other parts of the world, where monarchs have no natural pesticides, they have many more predators.
Butterflies taste bad to predators because they get their poisons from the plants that they eat as caterpillars.
Why are monarchs not eaten by butterflies?
Monarchs are toxic to predators because of the milkweed they eat as caterpillars. Milkweeds contain cardenolides, a cardiac glycoside that interferes with the pumps that move sodium across cell membranes. Despite being toxic, cardenolides have low mammalian toxicity, so the monarch is safe from most predators.
As it turns out, cardenolides are not effective against all predators. Some birds, including the black-backed oriole and black-headed grosbeak, can eat monarchs without getting sick.
What birds eat butterflies?
Many people think that animals do not eat butterflies because of their beautiful wings. This is not true. The main predators of butterflies are birds. Moths are also eaten by birds but do not have butterflies’ bright colors. Although butterflies are beautiful, they’re not just around for us to look at—many animals also eat them. Birds are the most common butterfly predators.
Birds that like to eat butterflies include:
Sparrows, Orioles, Grosbeaks, Blue jays, Martins, Great Crested Flycatchers, Tanagers, and Northern Mockingbirds.
Which butterfly is eaten by the birds?
Butterflies are a favorite food of many different birds because they are highly nutritious and abundant. Many backyard birds like to eat butterflies, but they usually won’t eat monarch butterflies.
Several types of butterflies that birds eat include:
Painted Lady Butterflies (Vanessa cardui), which are orange and black with white spots
Diana Fritillary Butterflies (Speyeria Diana) are large purple and black butterflies.
Which butterflies copied monarchs to prevent being eaten by birds?
The viceroy is a species of butterfly that lives in the Americas. It is known for its similar appearance to the monarch. Unlike the monarch, though, viceroys have markings that resemble the markings of monarchs.
They also have markings on their abdomens that can easily fool certain birds into thinking that they are toxic monarchs. Viceroys have evolved to mimic the toxic monarch because it allows them to live peacefully amongst birds.
The viceroy’s similarity to the monarch is an example of convergent evolution. Convergent evolution is when two unrelated species evolve similar traits or characteristics in order to adapt to their surroundings.
In nature, there are two types of mimicry: Batesian and Mullerian. The relationship between a viceroy and a monarch is an example of Mullerian mimicry when two unpalatable insects share similar markings to ward off predators. Viceroys are known as Batesian mimics because they mimic the monarch even though they are palatable.
In short, all butterflies are eaten by birds. Of course, not all butterflies; birds will devour any butterfly they can find. Monarch butterflies are the exception. They are not eaten because of a specific reason, which I will list below.