There are many critters that will damage plants as well as kill butterfly eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and adults.
We’re glad to share information about some of the critters that kill the ‘bad guys’.
First, we introduce Flower Flies.
They also go by the name of Syrphid Fly and Hover Fly.
These critters have larvae in several colors and shapes. Their diet is one of the most hated critters that we find on milkweed: aphids.
The adult lays eggs near aphids. Eggs are white and shaped like a tiny white jelly bean.
The larvae hatch and begin to eat aphids.
Pupae are teardrop shaped and are formed close to where the larvae were feeding.
Adult Flower Flies drink flower nectar.
Second are Lacewings.
Lacewing eggs are tiny white eggs on a stalk. They can be found singly or in clusters.
A Green Lacewing larva has little hooks on its back. It takes cast off skins of aphids and attaches them to its back. It looks like a lump of dirt walking on the leaf.
It pupates as a little knob of lacewing skins.
The adult emerges and eats pollen as well as drinks flower nectar.
Third is the Lady Bug or Lady Bird.
There are many different species of Lady Bugs.
Eggs are laid in clusters close to aphids.
Larvae hatch and begin eating aphids.
They pupate on leaves of the plant where they were eating.
When adults emerge, they also eat aphids.
At times a ladybug will eat an egg or caterpillar but most people believe that the good they do far outweighs the damage they do to butterfly caterpillars.
Fourth is the Aphidius – a tiny wasp that lays eggs in aphids.
The wasp larva eats the inside of the aphid.
The aphid turns into a hard dark bloated aphid shell. Inside, the wasp continues to mature.
The adult wasp cuts a circular hole in the aphid mummy and emerges to pair and lay eggs in more aphids. These dark hard aphid shells are always a good sign when you have an aphid infestation.
Fifth is Orius – Pirate Bugs.
These photos are of the Miniature Pirate Bug.
Pirate Bug larvae eat Thrips and their larvae.
The last photo shows a ladybug eating a young Monarch caterpillar. Most people believe they do more good than damage for wild butterfly populations.