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Do bees eat butterflies?

9 May 2022
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No, most bees consume a plant-based diet consisting of pollen and nectar. Certain species of stingless bees have been observed feeding on the flesh of dead animals but have not been observed consuming other insects like butterflies.

Bees and butterflies both fall under the order Lepidoptera which means 'scaled wing' in Latin.

Both of these insects are often found in very close proximity in gardens, meadows, and wildflower areas.

Do bees and butterflies cross paths at all?

Yes, pollen provides a fantastic source of protein and forms a large part of bees' diets, butterflies also consume pollen but in much smaller amounts.

This shared food source means that bees and butterflies will both land on pollen-rich flora to gather the resources they need.

Do bees and butterflies fight for resources?

No, both bees and butterflies are happy to share flowers with various other insects including each other.

This kindness does not extend to a butterfly that tries to enter the bee's hive or nest.

Despite the best intentions of any visitors to a nest or hive of a bee colony, the response will likely be swift, aggressive and in most cases fatal for the intruder.

Do bees and butterflies help each other in any way?

Yes, bees and butterflies indirectly help each other by pollinating a lot of the same flower species.

Plants like lavender and forget me not alongside fruits like strawberries and tomatoes are all pollinated by bees and butterflies ensuring next year's succession of healthy plants and in turn resources for our little gatherers.

This symbiotic relationship between flora, bees and butterflies ensures the continued survival of all three.

How can I attract bees and butterflies to my garden?

The best way to attract bees and butterflies to your garden is by planting nectar and pollen-rich plant species to provide an adequate food source.

This will encourage both to visit your garden and hopefully stay due to the extensive range of flora.

Here's a lovely relaxing video of bees and butterflies pollinating flowers as they go about their day.

Which insects do eat butterflies?

Bees don't eat butterflies but there are other members of the insect kingdom that see butterflies as a suitable source of food.

Insects that prey upon butterflies at different stages of their life cycle include:

  • Ants
  • Parasitic wasps
  • Dragonflies
  • Spiders

Some butterflies have evolved to develop an unpleasant taste when consumed in the hope to deter unwanted predators.

When it comes to self-defence against predators butterflies use their large wings in a number of ways.

By placing their wings over their abdomen they can effectively camouflage themselves in the correct surroundings, making them harder to find.

Check out our next article on do bees eat aphids?

Other species display bright colours and a clear display of venom or toxins.

While butterflies don't have a bite or stinger to inject poison or venom they can be toxic to some animals that choose to consume them due to their diet of poisonous plants.

While the toxins in the plant have no effect on the butterfly that consumes them any predator who consumes the butterfly will not have the same natural resistance built up over thousands of years of evolution.

Other species of butterfly opt for the mimic route, displaying colours and patterns associated with much more toxic varieties in the hope of fooling any unwanted attackers.

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