I noted a very large number of cabbage white (the yellow and black ones) caterpillars on the side of my house recently - the house bounds a field currently growing cauliflower. The caterpillars look fat and healthy, I'm not sure why they crossed from the field over my garden to the house - maybe to find somewhere to pupate?

The weird thing is that many of these caterpillars appear to be attached to, or sitting on, sacks of small yellow things which look very much like eggs. This is rather confusing - these are not new-born caterpillars next to eggs, they've clearly been eating in the field and come to the house later. I don't think butterflies would lay their eggs on the house rather than the plants, and even if they did why would the caterpillars return to the same place?

It looks like these healthy caterpillars are creating the sacs of yellow 'eggs' but that does not fit at all with the life-cycle of butterflies as I know it.

Is there any chance caterpillars can lay eggs in some cases and I never knew this? Or must something else be happening?

1 Answer 1


A photo would be great, but maybe some of the caterpillars have fallen prey to a parasitic wasp and what you're seeing are the wasp larvae, see image below https://www.wired.com/2014/10/absurd-creature-week-glyptapanteles-wasp-caterpillar-bodyguard/

Otherwise, could they be pollen grains?

  • 1
    I think you nailed it, they look just like that image
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 13:58
  • ooh, poor things...
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 15:07
  • 1
    You have way more sympathy for the cabbage butterfly caterpillars than I can muster, @Bamboo - they have done a number on my cabbages and I'm cheering for the parasitic wasps.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 13:45
  • @Ecnerwaln - but its such a horrible life and death for any creature, better picked off and stomped than that...
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 14:31

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.