Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Doomed Caterpillars

Caterpillar (perhaps hummingbird clearwing moth, Hemaris thysbe) with braconid wasp cocoons on Viburnum dentatum 'Chicago Lustre'

In my last post, I talked about looking for a caterpillar and finding a small tree frog on an arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum 'Chicago Lustre').

Today, on the same shrub, I found two large caterpillars that had been attacked by some sort of parasitoid wasps.

The wasps - which I believe belong to one of the 15,000-plus known species of 'braconid wasps' - lay their eggs in the caterpillars. The larvae mature inside the caterpillar, then emerge to construct cocoons on the caterpillar's back, where they can metamorphose into wasps and continue their life cycle.

Incidentally, I believe the caterpillars are the larvae of the hummingbird clearwing sphinx moth (Hemaris thysbe). The adult moth is quite beautiful.


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