Friday, September 10, 2010

Revenge is best served with eggs....

We found several of these tomato hornworms on our pepper plants today.  These little monsters can eat an entire plant in a matter of days....but it looks like someone got to them first! 

Welcome to the world of parasitism.  

These hornworms are facing the unlucky fate of a slow death.  A female braconid wasp lays her eggs in an unsuspecting hornworm.  The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the hornworm from the inside.  When the larvae are mature, they chew through the hornworm's skin (yes, I said they CHEW THROUGH it's skin...ewww). 

Once the larvae reach the outside, they form these tiny cocoons along the back and sides of the hornworm.  This is what you see here in the pictures.  By this point, the hornworm is extremely weak, still alive, and continues to act as a host to the pupating wasps.  Once the metamorphosis is complete, the wasps will emerge, find mates, and start the process over again with another unsuspecting hornworm. 

Although the hornworm can still do damage to the plants while this process takes place, these wasps can significantly reduce the population of these highly destructive garden pests. Like I said, revenge is best served with eggs! 


  1. Ummmm...then won't there be wasps everywhere?!??! Why not wrap them in a plastic bag (or something) & dispose of them??? *shudders* Ick.

  2. yeah, I guess there will be wasps when they emerge, but they are tiny and much more beneficial to have around. I dont think they bother people though! I get the Heeby jeebies thinking about those little wasps eating through the hornworm...ugh!

  3. I guess it's a good thing, but it still kind of creeps me out. lol

  4. I am going to throw up!! Eww!! My husband LOVES watching the documentary/show about parasites called "Monsters Inside Me". Those dang worms are interesting, but so, so disgusting. On a less disgusting (and funny!) note, I have been meaning to tell you that I loved your definition for "pyroto" for "Captcha Balderdash". Ha!! It cracked me up. The fire bit with the big toe. That's good stuff.