CLOSED: Caterpillar infested with eggs on my tomato plant

Wickliffe, OH

I found this poor fellow on my tomato plant today. Hubby insists it is a Tomato Worm with its own eggs on it....I think it is a Tobacco Horn Worm infested with wasp eggs (or pupa or whatever you call them). Is one of us right, or are we both wrong? Please solve the argument :)

This message was edited Aug 16, 2010 9:46 PM

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Wickliffe, OH

Another picture

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Wickliffe, OH

And another picture from the back

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(Zone 7a)

It's a hornworm with wasp eggs.

(Zone 7a)

Never hit SEND before you're ready. LOL

If you leave it alone, the wasps will hatch. The thing is a goner, that's for sure.

Sinks Grove, WV

Those are not eggs, but cocoons spun by the wasp larvae (probably Cotesia congregatus; Hymenoptera: Braconidae) after they emerged from the caterpillar. See http://tinyurl.com/2v34x99 for detailed information.

Wickliffe, OH

Thank you for the info. Cocoons....yes, they do look spun and cottony! And thank you for the article. My son was hell bent on squishing this thing, but mom prevailed and it is still "feeding" the tiny wasp babies. Now I am armed with great info to explain it better to my child as to why we let nature take its course. The hornworm will continue to serve its purpose and it will be interesting to see the wasps emerge. (...AND I was so glad I did not have any nightmares last night about parasitic bugs! LOL!)

(Zone 7a)

Will you post pics if you get them?

Thanks for correcting me, Suunto. I always thought they were eggs.

Wickliffe, OH

Yes, I will post more pics if I can manage to get them. From what I read in that article the little ones should emerge within the next 2-3 days (unless I misunderstood), so we will be watching closely for "the event" :)

Wickliffe, OH

Took longer than anticipated, but the wasp babies hatched this morning!

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(Zone 7a)

That's interesting. I was curious how they removed themselves. Thanks!

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5b)

That is really neat! Glad you were able to get a photo of the wasp coming out of the cocoon.

Wickliffe, OH

I realized after the post I should have said "emerged" rather than "hatched". Technically they hatched inside the hornworm and burrowed out of the skin as tiny yellow wasp worms (larva, larvae) then spun their cocoons on the surface. The hornworm got jumpy after a few days and knocked a few of the cocoons off of his back before they had transformed, so I got to see what the wasp larva looked like before their change into winged critters. This has been very educational for my and my family (although still creepy! LOL!)

Phoenix, AZ

These parasitic wasps are greatly reducing or decimating the Saturnid moth populations is some areas of the country since they apparently don't have predators that eat or kill enough of them to control their populations.

Why not put the caterpillar in a bottle and watch the wasps hatch, then fill the bottle with alcohol so those dozens of wasps don't go out and kill thousands of big caterpillars before they can become big, beautiful moths. Nature is fantastic and I love it, but this segment is getting out of hand in some areas.

This message was edited Sep 22, 2010 8:39 PM

Irvine, CA

yikes! most interesting post yet

Beaufort, NC

Even I the most squeamish person around, found that emerging picture quite cool.. what a great thing to post!! Thank you so very much!! and why kill the brachnoid wasp?? nature has its balance, and if we keep disrupting it, we are the ones who are going to lose every time..

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