Do Lizards Eat Caterpillars?

Lizards eat caterpillars because they are easy prey and to survive in the wild. Throughout this guide, we’ll explain:

  • Do Lizards Eat Caterpillars?
  • What Type Of Caterpillars Do Lizards Eat?
  • What Type of Lizards Eat Caterpillars?
  • How To Protect Caterpillars From Predators
  • Final Words 

Do Lizards Eat Caterpillars?

Yes. Lizards like to eat caterpillars because they are slow and easy to digest. House lizards are insectivorous, meaning that they eat snails, caterpillars, spiders, and cockroaches. 

When caterpillars grow into adult butterflies, they are still prey to lizards. Lizards can climb on trees, use camouflage to blend with their surroundings, and then use their tongue and teeth to eat a caterpillar once they arrive. 

What Type Of Caterpillars Do Lizards Eat?

Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch caterpillars are recognized by their black, yellow, and white stripes. Since they eat milkweed, they are toxic to other insects and birds. On average, monarch caterpillars can grow between 1″ – 1.7″ inches long. 

From the time it hatches to when it becomes a cocoon, the monarch caterpillar will increase in size by over 2,000 times. In addition, the Monarch caterpillar has two tentacles. Once they pass the cocoon phase, the monarch caterpillar then turns to the popular Monarch Butterfly.

 

Tobacco Hornworm

While the tobacco hornworm is harmless to humans, they will eat your tomato plants. In comparison to other caterpillar species, the tobacco hornworm can be a major pest in your garden if left untreated. 

Lizards counter the tobacco hornworm because of their size difference. The average tobacco hornworm grows up to be 10 cm. On the other hand, lizards grow up to be 2 inches to 3 feet tall. 

If a lizard engages with the tobacco hornworm, it will initiate the attack. After the lizard has the caterpillar in its jaws, it’s nearly impossible for them to escape. Since the tobacco hornworm doesn’t have any poisonous traits, they are defenseless against lizards, making them easy.

Woolybear Caterpillar

The Woolybear caterpillar is known for its orange and black appearance. Adults grow up to be 5cm and populate countries such as Europe and North America. Because of its “Wooly” fur, this caterpillar is well equipped for colder climates. 

In fact, its ability to survive in colder habitats is its defining survival trait. During the winter, this caterpillar goes in the pupate stage to protect itself during the winter. Throughout the winter season, they secrete a chemical that keeps their bodies warm. 

Lizards tend to prey on the Woolybear Caterpillar because they are easy to spot. The lizard will sneak behind the caterpillar and eat it in one bite. 

Tiger Swallowtail

The tiger swallowtail caterpillar has unusual green spots on its hed. Their main traits are fake eyes, stumpy legs, and fake eyes. On average, adult swallowtails can grow up to 5.5 cm long. 

Lizards tend to hunt after this caterpillar, but the Tiger Swallowtail does have a few defensive tactics up its sleeve. When they feel threatened, they release a putrid odor until the predator goes away. 

Like other caterpillars, it can imitate a snake’s appearance by showing a forked tongue on the back of its head. This defense mechanism can be used to trick lizards into thinking it’s a snake while finding a way to hide behind the leaves.

What Type of Lizards Eat Caterpillars?

Australian Water Dragons

Australian water dragons are strong climbers and fast runners. While they are less aggressive than other lizards on this list, their diet still includes frogs. 

As these lizards age, their dietary needs change. For instance, younger Australian Water Dragons tend to feed on insects such as worms, spiders, and caterpillars. When they become adults, their diet starts to include larger prey. 

Once they are hunting after a caterpillar, they can use their semiaquatic traits to their advantage. The Australian Water Dragon can swim in water and grasp onto the caterpillar, making a quick meal out of them. 

Garden Lizards

If you notice a garden lizard in your backyard, chances are they have already eaten a caterpillar before. Their diet consists of eating worms, caterpillars, and small rodents. 

Garden Lizards reside in countries such as Southeast Asia, Southern China, and South Asia. However, there are showings of Garden Lizards migrating to Florida (U.S.A). Because of this, they are nomadic creatures that will populate any area where caterpillars are present. 

When feeding a garden lizard, you’ll want to take its diet into consideration. They can eat caterpillars, but diversifying their food palette with different foods is the best way to go. 

House Lizards

Did you know that house lizards are able to eat caterpillars? Even in captivity, house lizards still need protein to survive. They tend to eat spiders, caterpillars, and snails. Thus, having a pet lizard can help with controlling the insect population in your home.

With house lizards, they need water to stay alive. To prevent extra lizards from entering your home, wipe the water spills and avoid using leaking pipes in your house. 

If you have a juvenile house lizard, they should avoid caterpillars until they become adults. That way, they can continue to grow and eat caterpillars when their claws and teeth are fully developed. 

How To Protect Caterpillars From Predators

When raising caterpillars, you’ll want to consider the cage or habitat you’ll place them in. If you have a cage, then it’s easier to protect them from lizards. If you leave them out in a natural habitat, a lizard may eat them when you’re not looking!

Milkweed potted plants are a great way to raise and protect your caterpillars. Start by placing a milkweed plant and wait for the mother caterpillar to start laying eggs. Once the eggs have hatched, you can place the baby caterpillars inside a cage.

You should have no more than 10 caterpillars per plant. Doing this reduces overcrowding and gives the caterpillar a form of protection against predators. 

Final Words

To conclude, lizards eat caterpillars with ease. They can use their claws, camouflage, and other hunting techniques to capture and subdue them. If you have a house lizard, always balance their caterpillar treats with vegetables and fruits to grow correctly. 

Leave a Comment