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Insect and Spider Identification: SOLVED: What are these white parasites(?) that killed this hornworm?

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Forum: Insect and Spider IdentificationReplies: 5, Views: 17
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Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

July 23, 2005
4:27 AM

Post #1643404

I found this tomato hornworm covered with these white things, that I assume are parasites. They eventually killed the hornworm. Does anyone know exactly what these white things are or what they turn into?

I've never seen anything like it before. I don't like things killing "my" caterpillars . . ..



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Modesto, CA
(Zone 8b)

July 23, 2005
4:32 AM

Post #1643415

Those are eggs, Onalee. There are different bugs that prey on caterpillars, depending on where you live. Here, we have a little parasitic wasp (SUPER tiny, you can barely see it!) that lays it's eggs on the caterpillar and the larvae use the caterpillar for food...

Stay tuned, the bug experts are one their way!

Raleigh, NC
(Zone 7b)

July 23, 2005
4:38 AM

Post #1643420

The white things are the pupae/cocoons of parasitic wasps (Apanteles sp.) The female wasp lays eggs on the caterpillar and the larvae eat the caterpillar from the inside out, then burrow to the surface when they mature.
Modesto, CA
(Zone 8b)

July 23, 2005
4:41 AM

Post #1643426

Ah! I told you an expert would come along! Oh well, I was close! LOL

Floresville, TX
(Zone 9a)

July 23, 2005
6:01 PM

Post #1644340

Onalee, you like tomato hornworms? I can't stand them... they eat a lot of plants other than tomatoes, like brugmansia, iochroma, nicotiana, etc.

Plus they're not very nice to look at lol.

I also despise the gulf fritillary caterpillars that devour my passiflora empire every year... I wonder if the wasps like them too?
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

July 26, 2005
6:12 PM

Post #1651290

I LOVE TOMATO HORN WORMS that eat my datura and tomatoes, and gulf fritillary and zebra long wings that eat my passion vine and monarchs and queen caterpillars that eat my milk weed - - because they TURN INTO SUCH BEAUTIFUL FLYING FLOWERS and I LOVE BUTTERFLIES and hawk moths!!!! They are just facinating to me - I could watch them for hours, so yes - I LOVE CATERPILLARS because that is the ONLY way to have butterflies is to let them eat the plants - the plants will survive - I always plant some for me and lots for them - we have the 'nursery' plants where we take all the caterpillars and then the 'seed' plants that I grow to get seeds from and don't let the caterpillars eat until I get enough seeds.

Check out what tomato horn worms turn into:

TOM - Thanks much for the info! I knew that wasps would get my monarch caterpillars - I've seen them do it, but I had never seen anytthing like THAT before! Learn something new every day! It's amazing the cycle of life that we have in our gardens and yards, isn't it? A whole eco-system in such a small space.

Thanks everyone for your help and

*** SAVE THE CATERPILLARS **** plant enough for them and you too!



This message was edited Jul 26, 2005 1:16 PM

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