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Apanteles glomeratus wasp cocoons with the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar

Turns out these pretty little golden cocoons belong to a parasitic wasp that laid it's eggs inside the caterpillar, which survives the ordeal of the parasites emerging and then stands guard for predators until it eventually dies of starvation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D75LuxeaFk

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Comment by Lissa on October 20, 2012 at 17:38

I watched so many videos this morning - the mood music came with another one.

Here's a couple of predators that consume the caterpillar:

Wasp Pteromalus puparum  

A small wasp that only predates on the pupa stage of a butterfly. It finds caterpillars that are just going through their final shedding and changing into a pupa.

Before the pupa's skin has hardened, the wasp will insert it eggs into it. The larvae feed on the pupa's contents.

Ichneumen Fly

A distinctive looking insect, with its slender body and long ovipositor. The ovipositor is used to penetrate the caterpillars skin and pass down an egg.

The egg hatchs and the ichneumen larva feeds on the caterpillar, eventually killing it.

 

Ichneumen Fly

Comment by Lissa on October 20, 2012 at 17:28

There was another wasp in your link where the larvae just consume the host.

These little jobs I have leave the host alive after they exit (really quite gross to watch - surely it must be painful for the poor caterpillar, but there's no sign of it on their skin that I can see). It may not be a "head banger" but it's still alive and guarding.

Don't you just love the perky mood music through the video lol.

Comment by Joseph on October 20, 2012 at 14:53

That's a nice video, Lissa. It does look like this particular species of wasp merely kills their host rather than turn it into a head butting zombie.

The insect world is rather frightening, isn't it? 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on October 20, 2012 at 10:16

Great stuff! Excellent detective work, Joseph! Now I know what to look for too!

Comment by Lissa on October 20, 2012 at 6:01

http://www.insectes-net.fr/pieride/images/pier116gf.jpg

Comment by Lissa on October 20, 2012 at 5:50

You're good! This is definately the little wasp that hatched out of the cocoons. Have a look at this YT video - right at the end it shows the wasp hatching from the cocoon and moving around. No ovipositor unlike some other varieties of parasitic wasp.

Apanteles glomeratus video

Comment by Joseph on October 19, 2012 at 8:37

I've seen the adults in my shadehouse. I knew they were some sort of wasp so didn't try to kill them, unfortunately though I've squashed quite a few of their pupa, must remember to avoid doing so in future.

Comment by Joseph on October 19, 2012 at 8:36

It's likely to be Apanteles glomeratus.

Translated from French:

tiny parasitic wasp larvae and particularly that of the Cabbage . 
eggs are deposited in small caterpillars continue to live normally, 
moth larvae consume first the hemolymph and inside the caterpillar's body without touching to vital parts. 
they finally emerge to form their yellow cocoons and pupate, the cocoons are attached to the host dies.

Comment by Lissa on October 19, 2012 at 6:17

I put these cocoons into a container and they have hatched yesterday. When I checked, I thought some small ants had found their way into the container through the little vent and opend it to remove them (I was tired and a little stupid at the time) only to have it fly away! No ant!

I cannot find a pic of these wasps anywhere online with searching - they are the size and colour of a small dark ant. Their wings are transparant and they have quite long antenae for the size of their body which they use like feelers.

Good predator for the Cabbage White caterpillars that we have so much trouble with. They have infested quite a few out on my Kohlrabi, much to my delight.

Comment by Lissa on October 14, 2012 at 5:20

Yeah, I love the Aliens and Predators movies lol.

Not a good thing for a Mum to be to be watching Florence :( give you nightmares.

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