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Can I feed my Mexican red knee tarantula monarch caterpillars?

kfloyd

New Member
Hi!
I currently have an over abundance of monarch caterpillars in my garden (seriously, my milkweed can’t keep up and there are SO many caterpillars!) and so I was wondering if they can be fed to my tarantula? My garden and yard is pesticide free. I love my monarch caterpillars but there’s just SO many right now and I figured, circle of life, right? But I want to make sure it’s safe to feed them to my tarantula before I do so.

Thank you in advance for your input!
 

timc

Well-Known Member
3 Year Member
Wild caught prey is generally frowned upon in the hobby, but I guess if you know for sure these caterpillars haven’t been exposed to anything that could be harmful to your tarantula you could, in theory. The only thing is, you’d really only be getting rid of one caterpillar a week, if even that. I understand free feeders but it sounds like you’d just be taking a drop out of the bucket lol. If there’s that many one tarantula isn’t going to help considerably.
 

Coradams

New Member
I believe monarchs are poisonous. I remember a study where monarchs were put in cages with hungry birds. The birds would either not eat them or eat one, get sick, and never eat another no matter how hungry. (If memory serves, it was a lesson on mimicry and why it was advantageous for viceroy butterflies to look so much like monarchs.) But I believe that they get their toxicity from eating milkweed as caterpillars. I am recalling a long-ago zoology class in college so you may want to check it out first. If you do, let me know if I am right.
 

m0lsx

Well-Known Member
Tarantula Club Member
I believe monarchs are poisonous..........
But I believe that they get their toxicity from eating milkweed as caterpillars. I am recalling a long-ago zoology class in college so you may want to check it out first. If you do, let me know if I am right.
https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/how-the-monarch-got-its-poison.php


Among butterflies, the monarch really stands out with its beautiful orange and black colors. These colors evolved to warn predators about the monarch's toxic compounds that disrupt a sodium ion pumping mechanism in cells.


If a predator eats it, the toxins cause it to get sick, or even suffer cardiac arrest. The monarch gets the toxin from the food that its caterpillar eats, the milkweed plant. This plant makes the toxin to protect itself from predators.
 

m0lsx

Well-Known Member
Tarantula Club Member
If the milkweed plant gets it's name because it produces a milky sap, then it is natures way of giving a very clear warning that it is toxic.

It is a rule of survival that is true across the globe. Milky sap = Do not eat & avoid skin contact with the sap as it is almost certainly a skin irritant too.
 

kfloyd

New Member
No worries, no monarch caterpillars have been harmed and they remain in my garden. I even ended up buying & planting more milkweed for them. Our pet store in the area finally got crickets in and my tarantula is happy. I very much appreciate everyone’s responses!
 

Combat Advantage

Active Member
Hi!
I currently have an over abundance of monarch caterpillars in my garden (seriously, my milkweed can’t keep up and there are SO many caterpillars!) and so I was wondering if they can be fed to my tarantula? My garden and yard is pesticide free. I love my monarch caterpillars but there’s just SO many right now and I figured, circle of life, right? But I want to make sure it’s safe to feed them to my tarantula before I do so.

Thank you in advance for your input!
It's a good thing that you have the forethought to ask first. None of us knows it all. Experience is a harsh teacher when you get the answer wrong.

Here's an idea. I remember back when some teachers, not Miss Experience, bought Monarch larva for classroom zoology/ entomology experiments. The students studied the life cycle and then released the butterflies to their cross country vacation.
 
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