Wonderful, Wonderful Wasps!*
Caterpillar Parasite

   For almost every bad bug in the world, there is a kind of wasp that helps keep it from multiplying too fast. That's good, because many bad bugs, like grasshoppers, or armyworms lay thousands of eggs. If there were no control, they would bury us in a few weeks.

   Here is a great big bad worm (tomato hornworm) that is controlled by a little tiny wasp: the braconid wasp. These baby wasps are parasites on the hornworm. If you don't know what a parasite is, it would be a good word to look up in the dictionary. I hope someday to catch a picture of the tiny wasp adult.

DCP_1088.jpg (96754 bytes)
Copyright 2002 by Marg Conklin   Used by permission.  Permission to use this image must come from the copyright owner.

   How does the wasp do it? The adult wasp lays its eggs in the tiny caterpillar. As the caterpillar grows, the wasp larvae eat it from the inside. (Larvae are baby wasps. They look like tiny worms.) Then they come through the skin and form a pupa case on the outside. You can see lots of them on this hornworm.

  This big bad caterpillar is a goner. He's dead but doesn't know it yet. Is that cool or what?

  Here is a photo of another species of braconid wasp, and how it is being raised to help control fruit fly pests.

*Note on Protecton from Stings

Wasps    page 1  page 2   page 3   page 4   page 5

Back to Kids' Good Bug Page  On to another kind of wasp