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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.

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Comment by Joseph on October 12, 2012 at 14:47

That's interesting! Because a caterpillar standing guard would indicate they are not eggs but the pupa of parasitic wasps. The wasp lays its eggs on the caterpillar, the larva hatch and bury into their host to feed. A few weeks later, these emerge without killing the host and the zombified caterpillar's becomes an unwitting guard.

You have your very own Discovery channel in your backyard.

Comment by Lissa on October 12, 2012 at 14:25

I have just put some into a container to see what comes out :) Found another batch of them with another caterpillar "standing guard".

Even if they are Army Worms, why is the Cabbage White caterpillar paying them such close attention?

Comment by Joseph on October 12, 2012 at 11:55

My guess is still some type of armyworm moth. Looking through some pics on the web, there is noticeable variance in the shape of the eggs and mass. You could hatch them and see. Unfortunately I squashed all the ones I found.

Comment by Lissa on October 12, 2012 at 11:24

While I was at the Dept of Agriculture website I emailed a couple of pics of the cocoons to them to see if they can identify.

Comment by Lissa on October 12, 2012 at 11:18

I'll throw in a pic for the hell of it:

Photograph of a Common armyworm larva on plant material

Comment by Lissa on October 12, 2012 at 11:17

Just looked up the Army Worm (which was a good guess) but this is the description of the eggs. doesn't sound like these oval shaped, yellow silk covered cocoons:

Armyworm eggs look like small white beads laid in masses or rows resembling miniature pearls.

Comment by Joseph on October 12, 2012 at 7:34

gie = give :)

Comment by Joseph on October 12, 2012 at 7:34

I've seen those. I'm fairly sure these are the eggs that will hatch into striped armyworms, which are 1000000000 times more destructive than the white cabbage butterfly caterpillars (or the loopers). They are the larva of certain types of moths.

The armyworms spin webs that they hide within to avoid the wasps, which are a great natural controller of the green caterpillars. Armyworms also like to eat the florets of broccoli and will make a mess of young shoots. They aren't affected by a neem/soap spray either. When they appear, I gie up - usually by then it'd be too warm for broccoli/broccolini to flourish.

By the way, the moths can and will get through folds and small gaps in exclusion netting. In the past I've found armyworms eating away at sugar loaf cabbage that were protected by an exclusion net. I bought my 'exclusion net' from IKEA (2 pack for $6) - it's just a fine gauze curtain but it seems to be quite UV resistant.

Comment by Lissa on October 12, 2012 at 5:00

May have seen/read about the two on another site yesterday.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on October 11, 2012 at 22:00

Not that this advances the question any ... but you have me intrigued: searching Brisbane Insects only comes up with the Cabbage White Butterfly - have I missed something?

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