Butterflies must contend with parasites and diseases. In addition to parasites and disease, butterflies have many natural enemies, including frogs, birds, ants, wasps, and more.
Parasite insects lay their eggs on or in butterfly eggs, caterpillars, or chrysalises. The larvae of the parasites will then feed on the host, eventually killing it or having a negative effect on survival.
4 Butterfly Parasite Insects Include:
- Tachinid flies
- Chalcid wasps
- Trichogramma wasps
- Braconid wasps
Butterflies are susceptible to a variety of diseases, both viral and bacterial. Some of the most common diseases that affect butterflies include:
- Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE): This is a protozoan parasite that infects the caterpillars of monarch butterflies. It is the most common disease that affects monarch butterflies, and it can cause significant mortality in populations.
- Nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV): This is a virus that infects the caterpillars of a variety of butterflies. It can cause rapid death in infected caterpillars.
- Leucocytozoon: This is a protozoan parasite that infects the blood of adult butterflies. It can cause anemia and death in infected butterflies.
- Trichomonosis: This is a protozoan parasite that infects the digestive system of adult butterflies. It can cause diarrhea and death in infected butterflies.
These diseases can be spread through contact with infected butterflies, contaminated food, or water. There are several ways you can help prevent and control butterfly parasites and diseases.
Prevention and Control of Butterfly Parasites and Disease
Some of the common ways to help prevent and control butterfly parasites and diseases include:
- Planting butterfly-friendly ‘native’ plants in your garden. Starting a butterfly garden is a great way to attract butterflies to your yard.
- Create and maintain healthy habitats for butterflies. This will provide them with food and shelter.
- Avoid using pesticides in your garden. Pesticides can harm butterflies and their food source. And have a negative effect on other creatures in your garden.
- Removing dead butterflies and other animals in your garden. This will help to prevent the spread of parasites and diseases.
- Monitoring your butterflies for signs of parasites and diseases. If you see any signs of problems, you can take steps to treat or control them.
- Reduce your carbon footprint. Climate change is a major threat to butterflies. You can help to reduce climate change by reducing your carbon footprint.
All of these predators, parasites, and diseases can have a significant impact on butterfly populations. In some cases, they can even cause the extinction of a particular species.