Braconid Wasps Cotesia
I was all kinds of happy when I found this sphinx moth caterpillar creeping along my Virginia Creeper - I had a new bug! Of course, I immediately plucked a segment of vine, caterpillar and all, and moved it into a bug box so I could photograph the moth it would become. Alas, once again, a bug got to my bug before I did, so instead of a fluttery moth, I got wasps. Drat!
Green caterpillar with yellow diagonal stripes and tiny red dots of a Virginia creeper sphinx moth, Darapsa myron, clinging to a Virginia Creeper vine
The creepy parasitoids oozed out as little white wormy wasp larva and then cocooned all over the poor caterpillar.
Green caterpillar of a Virginia creeper sphinx moth, Darapsa myron, plumped up, not with moth to be, but with wriggling white wasp larva inside
Braconid Wasp Larva and Cocoons, Contesia
Braconid Wasp Larva, Contesia
Green Virginia creeper sphinx caterpillar, Darapsa myron, covered in small white parasitoid wasp cocoons and a wasp larva
Cocooning Braconid Wasp Larva
Of course, I was curious and had to see the wasps, so I kept the caterpillar and wasp-proofed the bug box.
Here's what came out seven days later:
Braconid Wasp, Contesia
Braconid Wasps, Contesia
I bagged the bug box and camera and tied it shut to get pictures... it didn't work very well.
Braconid Wasp, Contesia
Braconid Wasp, Contesia
Green Virginia creeper sphinx caterpillar, Darapsa myron, covered in small white parasitoid Braconid wasp cocoons
Some bugs are fun to take pictures of. These wasps were downright creepy. It's easy to see where authors can look for ideas for horror stories - just check the back yard and really look at what's going on out there! Thinking about these baby wasps eating a living caterpillar from the inside out gives a different meaning to phrase like "all natural" or  "natural remedy" doesn't it?
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