The Hawk Moth Caterpillar and the Parasitic Wasp Eggs

August 25, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

The vast majority of wasps are parasitoids. They practice the grisly art of body-snatching. They lay their eggs in the bodies of other living animals to provide their newly hatched larvae a fresh supply of food. In this case a Sphingidae caterpillar commonly known as hawk moths, sphinx moths, and hornworm. It's a little like in the movie "ALIEN".

Parasitized Sphingidae caterpillar - Cross Polarized MacroParasitized Sphingidae caterpillar - Cross Polarized MacroSphingidae caterpillar Parasitized with cottony wasp cocoons

Chenille de Sphingidae parasitée

Cross Polarized Macro

It's a ferocious life cycle. The wasps inject their eggs in the caterpillar along with a virus that prohibits the caterpillar's immune system from rejecting the egg. Eventually the larvae emerge from the caterpillar and enter the PUPA stage as in the image above. By the time the larvae mature into a wasp and emerge from the cottony cocoons, the caterpillar dies. 

The caterpillar served as host, food and protection for the little wasps to be. 

 


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