I rescued 13 Monarch cats in the butterfly garden back in Dec. Several eclosed and they just hung out in the greenhouse,,until a bird got them. I wonder if the poison in milkweed is less as the weather gets colder???
Or the bird was hungry enough to risk it? We have more Viceroys than Monarch here, but they look like Monarchs. I have heard that birds taste-test them to see if they are edible. Haven't actually seen this myself.
Are you sure the predator was a bird? A bird and especially a small one will normally get very sick from eating Monarch butterflies or caterpillars. Usually they will leave the wings or parts of the wings behind (at least this has been my experience). Do you have gekkos or lizards where you live or big spiders? I have even seen ants carry away pre-flight Monarchs (which are so very vulnerable).
The caterpillar predators here are birds, lizards, and WASPS. We do have wasps big enough to pick up a caterpillar and haul it off - I have seen that.
o yes, how could i forget the wasps. we have some big ones here too, to about 2 inches long...parasitic ones that lay eggs in the caterpillars and then big hungry ones that carry them off and smaller hungry ones that eat in place. in my post above, i was addressing the pre-flight butterflies which was EF Georgia's original query. i have seen the large wasps carry off caterpillars but haven't seen them carry off pre-flight butterflies although i'm sure they do that too.
EF Georgia...did you receive a satisfactory response about the toxicity of the Milkweeds varying from season to season? If not, I have learned on another post that "shorthog" is a scientist who specializes in matters of toxicity and may not have seen your post. You might address your question to him.
I am pretty sure it was wrens. I saw one right after I found the wings on the ground of the greenhouse. The greenhouse was open at the time. We do have lizards,,,
vitrsna, will post the question to shorthog..