Braconid Wasps Pupating and Emerging
Tobacco Hornworms, Manduca sexta (often found feeding on tomato plants and confused with Tomato Hornworms, Manduca quinquemaculata) are often the target of a species of a Braconid wasp (Cotesia congregata) that parasitizes beetle, moth, fly and sawfly larvae. The adult wasp lays her eggs inside the hornworm with her long ovipositor. The eggs hatch and the wasp larvae feed on the caterpillar. Eventually the wasp larvae emerge and spin silk pupa cases (cocoons) on the skin of the dying hornworm caterpillar, inside of which they transform into winged adults within four to eight days. Braconid wasps are extremely good at locating hornworms, even when there are very few to find. Because they parasitize hornworm, cabbage worm, aphid and gypsy moth larvae, Braconid wasps are considered important biological control agents. If you want to discourage Tobacco Hornworms in your tomato patch, allow the wasps to complete their metamorphosis – this accomplishes both the demise of the hornworm, as well as an increased population of Braconid wasps. (Thanks to Emily and Joe Silver for photo op.)
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This entry was posted on August 29, 2014 by Mary Holland. It was filed under Adaptations, August, Braconid Wasps, Hymenoptera, Insects, Metamorphosis, Parasites, Parasitic Wasps, Pupae, Sphinx Moths, Tobacco Hornworms and was tagged with Aphids, Brachonidae, Cabbage Worm, Carolina Sphinx, Cotesia congregata, Gypsy Moth Larvae, Hawkmoth, Hornworms, Manduca sexta, Parasitoid, Pupating, Sawflies.