13 September 2010

More caterpillars eaten alive

I love wasps. I love them even more when they are killing caterpillars. Which was why I was excited to see this:
It is a tomato horn worm -- bane of the tomato growers existence -- covered with the pupal of a tiny little parasitoid wasp. A momma wasp finds a tomato horn worm, and cheerfully lays some eggs inside it. The little baby wasp larva hatch and happily munch on the innards of the caterpillar. Like all good parasitoids, they are careful to save the vital organs for last so the caterpillar doesn't die. Finally, they wriggle their way out of the body of the horn worm, build a little pupa (the white things in the picture) and transform themselves into lovely little adult wasps.
So so cool... Parasitoid wasps are the best. There are tons of different kinds -- some of which are so tiny they actually lay their eggs and grow up inside aphids!

8 comments:

LIz said...

The parasitoid wasps are awesome. I've never seen them actually attack things--but I love when I find the adults.

danger garden said...

Nasty and amazing at the same time!

Greensparrow said...

Llz,
They are the best. And so many of the adults are incredibly beautiful too!

Danger garden,
Aren't nasty and amazing essentially synonymous?

Mary C. said...

sweet! What a lucky sight for you!

meemsnyc said...

Ewwwwwww. :)

Garden Lily said...

Cool for everyone but the caterpillar. What a fascinating find.

Thomas said...

Great picture - cool/strange and creepy. I opened it into a new tab and zoomed in: there are spots on the caterpillar's side that look like eyes.

Amanda said...

So glad we don’t have those things in Australia! I like my tomatoes without caterpillars and wasp parasites!