Behaviour of Monarch larvae

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  • #14024


    Does anyone know why monarchs notch the leaves.

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  • #23068


    Hi Mary,

    I think they notch the leaves to stop the plant taking sap away from the leaf thus helping retain the nutrients in the leaf. Could also stop the plant from 'bleeding' too much as well, so perserving the food source. Either way, it's pretty clever.

    As for the head thrashing, they seem to do this if small dust gets on them & tiggles as well as reacting to sounds. Unfortunally we can't speak to them, so will never know all the reasons they do it.

    Hope this helps.




    You'll have to tell me more – is this caterpillars (larvae) you are talking about? What size are they? Are they in the wind? Loud music?

    I have a friend who "sings" to her caterpillars – she makes a certain noise, but of course I can't put it here – a sort of tuneful "oooooooh" and the caterpillars listen to her. A woman I met two days ago tell her hers "listen" too, they nod their heads when she says "yawning".

    So if you can pinpoint any particular noise or sound effect in the background when your caterpillars are doing this, you might have identified that the caterpillars are listening to something.

    Other than that, perhaps I have misunderstood your question.



    Thankyou Jacqui, they are clever . I have another Question you may also be able to answer why is it they thrash about wildly throwing there heads around and backwards.



    Hello Mary – great to see a new face in here.

    Do you mean, why the take a "nip" out of the stem at the top of the leaves, near where they join the stem, before they start to eat them?

    I have been told that this is to reduce the toxicity of the sap in the leaf and think I also read that they do this in hot weather, when the plants need more water, and therefore the milk in the stems is thicker and more toxic.

    Aren't they clever?


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