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Insect and Spider Identification: SOLVED: Caterpillar infested with eggs on my tomato plant

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Forum: Insect and Spider IdentificationReplies: 15, Views: 136
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ampdesigns
Wickliffe, OH

August 16, 2010
6:22 PM

Post #8044078

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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ampdesigns
Wickliffe, OH

August 16, 2010
6:24 PM

Post #8044083

Another picture

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ampdesigns
Wickliffe, OH

August 16, 2010
6:25 PM

Post #8044087

And another picture from the back

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kwanjin

kwanjin
West Valley City, UT
(Zone 7a)

August 16, 2010
9:00 PM

Post #8044390

It's a hornworm with wasp eggs.

kwanjin

kwanjin
West Valley City, UT
(Zone 7a)

August 16, 2010
9:01 PM

Post #8044393

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.
suunto
Sinks Grove, WV

August 17, 2010
3:31 AM

Post #8044580

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.
ampdesigns
Wickliffe, OH

August 17, 2010
6:17 AM

Post #8044802

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!)

kwanjin

kwanjin
West Valley City, UT
(Zone 7a)

August 17, 2010
9:18 AM

Post #8045164

Will you post pics if you get them?

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

August 17, 2010
9:50 AM

Post #8045251

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" :)
ampdesigns
Wickliffe, OH

August 21, 2010
8:53 AM

Post #8053577

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

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kwanjin

kwanjin
West Valley City, UT
(Zone 7a)

August 21, 2010
11:55 AM

Post #8053820

That's interesting. I was curious how they removed themselves. Thanks!
lincolnitess
Lincoln, NE
(Zone 5b)

August 21, 2010
1:56 PM

Post #8053983

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

August 21, 2010
2:57 PM

Post #8054046

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!)
Albert214
Phoenix, AZ

September 22, 2010
8:39 PM

Post #8115525

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
marzissa
Irvine, CA

October 3, 2010
9:32 PM

Post #8136003

yikes! most interesting post yet
tropicalover76
Beaufort, NC

April 20, 2013
1:50 PM

Post #9490933

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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