Do Spiders Eat Butterflies? Answered!

Last updated on October 11th, 2022

Spiders are fascinating creatures that play a vital role in nature. There are over 40,000 spider species worldwide, and each has its unique way of hunting and living. Some spiders spin webs, while others hunt their prey using venom.

They eat insects, mites, and other arthropods, and some species even prey on caterpillars and lizards but do spiders eat butterflies?

Spiders do eat butterflies but only when they’re crippled. While some spiders spin sticky webs to cripple their prey, there are venomous spiders that can inject this fluid into vital areas of the butterfly in order to paralyze and restrict their movement.

Can spiders eat monarch butterflies?

The toxic compound found in monarch butterflies makes them harmful for any spider to consume.

Male monarch butterflies contain 30% less poison when compared to female monarch butterflies so if the spider can differentiate between the two, it can avoid being at the full risk of the toxicity of this butterfly.

When do spiders catch butterflies?

The best time for spiders to catch butterflies would be in the mornings or evenings because butterflies need warm muscles to fly and during this time, the environment is so cold that it’ll freeze these winged insects and leave them temporarily paralyzed.

spider eating butterfly

Do spiders eat dead butterflies?

Spiders are not scavengers and will only eat butterflies that are caught in the webs. If there is a dead butterfly, it will be eaten by a scavenger like a mouse or a rat. A spider does not eat prey that they didn’t kill themselves. 

Do all spiders eat butterflies?

Spiders are carnivorous arthropods and they can eat any kind of insect. There is no record of spiders avoiding butterflies. However, if the toxins released by the butterflies deter the spider from hunting, you will find that the spider will not consume the insect.

Can a spider eat butterflies that are much larger than itself?

The simple answer to this question is yes. You will find that even if a large butterfly gets trapped in a spider’s web, it will consume it.

There are several instances where the butterfly trapped in the spider’s web cannot escape and slowly dies.

Once the insect is dead, it is suitable food for the spider but as long as the butterfly is alive, the spider might avoid getting too close to its prey, but once it is dead, it will devour it.

Do spiders suck the butterflies dry?

This is a complete myth. The common notion is that spiders suck the juices from the bodies of their still-alive prey!

However, it is not true because these insects eat the butterflies and then regurgitate the inedible parts of the insect.

For example, you might have observed that a butterfly’s wings have been chewed into by the spider parts of its body.

This is because the spider cannot differentiate between which part it can digest and which it cannot; hence, it will bite into the carcass of the butterfly.

Later it will vomit the parts that it cannot digest.

Can more giant spiders eat still-alive butterflies?

In the case of the more giant spiders’ butterflies are much easier preys. Once caught in the web, the spider can approach the butterfly and kill it.

This way, the spider will not have to wait for the butterfly to die before it can start devouring the insect. Here the spider can hunt the butterfly and then eat it.

Are there any instances of venomous spiders eating butterflies?

There are several instances of venomous spiders eating butterflies. Sometimes venomous spiders are smaller in size but can be more dangerous.

If a butterfly gets trapped in the web of one such spider, it will approach its prey even when it is alive to inject the venom.

Even if the butterfly is larger than the spider, it has no way of escaping the spider. Once the venom is injected, the butterfly will die, and the spider can devour its prey.

Can spiders get sick from eating butterflies?

According to, Butterfly Identification, certain species of butterflies like the Monarch can secrete toxins that can deter predators.

Even when caught in the web, these butterflies can secrete toxins to ward off the predators and escape the web.

However, it may not always be sufficient to protect the butterfly from the spider’s attack.

Is there any way to keep spiders away from my butterflies?

There are several ways to keep spiders away from your butterfly collection.

First, you will find that spiders avoid citrus smell like oranges and lemons.

If you have a butterfly collection and have observed spiders lurking around it, consider lining the cage where you have kept the butterflies with eucalyptus oil or peppermint oil.

Do all spiders spin webs to catch butterflies?

Some spiders can spin webs to catch their prey, however, most will resort to the method that is most convenient to them when capturing prey.

A spider can cripple their prey by either injecting venom or by wrapping the prey with its web.

However, it is a myth that all spiders spin webs. Only half of the known species of spiders spin webs.

The webs spun by spiders are made out of silk and are known to be of high tensile strength. These webs are strong enough to hold prey of high weight. But not all spiders spin webs.

Some species of spiders, like the wolf spider, jumping spider, ground spider, sac spider, and lynx spider, are known to hunt their prey.

These spiders will bring down their prey like carnivorous insects.

Is it true only female spiders spin webs?

This is a myth since both males and females can spin webs. Spinning a web is a predatory behavior of spiders.

Spiders use the web to catch their prey; hence, male and female spiders need to spin webs.

What do the giant house spiders eat?

If you have found giant arthropods in your house and are wondering what it eats, then the first thing you should do is observe the creature when it hunts.

Sometimes these arthropods do not wait for prey to be caught; instead, they can directly hunt for their food.

You will find that these arthropods can hunt down smaller arthropods, flies, moths, and other smaller insects. If necessary, they can even hunt and kill smaller butterflies.

Is there any food that spiders eat other than insects?

Certain species of spiders can eat plant-based food like pollen. But these insects do not usually eat plant leaves, fruits, or vegetables.

Some species of spiders build their webs underwater, and these spiders usually live on smaller aquatic creatures and are even known to consume fish.

Thus, even though the normal spiders you might see in your house consume only insects, certain species of spiders survive on other types of food.

Most web-building spiders will devour almost all kinds of flying creatures like mosquitoes, moths, and butterflies.

Once these insects get trapped in a spider’s web, they cannot escape; over time, the spider will eat the insects.

What are the natural predators of butterflies?

Butterflies have several natural other than spiders. Snakes, birds, frogs, lizards, and even rats consume butterflies.

Here is a list of animals that eat butterflies.

Further reading:
Burke Museum – Myth: Spiders only “suck juices” of prey

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