25 August 2007

Sweet revenge - the indifferent way

So, my dear tobacco hornworm, you thought you could destroy my tomato plants and get away with it, eh? Now, what you gonna do about those Cotesia congregata cocoons sticking out of your body? Evil laugh

hornworm+wasp cocoons

Caterpillars are attacked by a braconid wasp (Cotesia congregata) that lays dozens of eggs within each larva [=caterpillar]...The host caterpillar is doomed, consigned to a slow death that may not follow for weeks*.

Evil laugh

But evil laughs aside, let us not forget what Richard Dawkins said: Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent.


*David L. Wagner, Caterpillars of Eastern North America, Princeton Field Guides, 2005.

6 comments:

Roger B. said...

Now that's what I call an infestation!

Tristram Brelstaff said...

It will just have to eat your tomato plant faster to feed all those extra mouths!

Kevin Z said...

We came home from vacation to find baby bunnies in our backyard decapitated (thanks to our local feral orange tabby), but one that was still alive was coated with tons of small white eggs in its fur. I wonder if a similar wasp is parasitizing mammals?

Clare said...

When I first saw that I thought it was a white flower. That is truly gruesome.

burning silo said...

When you first posted the hornworm photo the other day, I looked at it and thought, "What, no parasitoids?!"

Anonymous said...

So I should get those two doomed caterpillars out of my enclosed porch before those wasps hatch? What would happen if I picked those egg things off?