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Old 04-08-2009, 19:12   #1
countryboy
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Default Caterpillar Parasites?

The kids collected a load of caterpillars yesterday and are raising them in a bucket (as kids do). They look from my very limited knowledge and Usborne book of butterflies like cabbage white or large white butterfly caterpillars.

Anyway, my daughter brought the bucket in this evening complaining that one of the caterpillars had "gone weird". I took a look and one had dozens of little maggots crawling out of it. I've heard of various insects implanting eggs in a host a la "Alien" but never seen it before. Does anyone know what species might use caterpillars in this way?

I've got some pics but need to find the camera lead to upload them...
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Old 04-08-2009, 19:21   #2
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Default Re: Caterpillar Parasites?

Proberbly a parasitic wasp. What a way to die eh..? Bit like Alien..
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Old 04-08-2009, 19:30   #3
Simon H
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Default Re: Caterpillar Parasites?

Could be those Nematode things. THey are a worm like parasite that preys on insects, arhtropods etc.
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Old 04-08-2009, 19:42   #4
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Default Re: Caterpillar Parasites?

We home ed our daughter and one year I decided how romantic and educational it would be to collect up the cabbage white caterpillars and learn about their life-cycle by raising them into lovely butterflies to release. After about a week they were all dead. Every single one had been got at by what I later discovered was Apantales glomeratus, a parasitic wasp whose larvae eat them from the inside (I think it's used as a biological control?).

We did keep them just to see what happened (quickly switched our study to the life cycle of the wasp larvae!) but it was pretty gross.
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Old 04-08-2009, 20:18   #5
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Default Re: Caterpillar Parasites?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenofthewoods View Post
We home ed our daughter and one year I decided how romantic and educational it would be to collect up the cabbage white caterpillars and learn about their life-cycle by raising them into lovely butterflies to release. After about a week they were all dead. Every single one had been got at by what I later discovered was Apantales glomeratus, a parasitic wasp whose larvae eat them from the inside (I think it's used as a biological control?).

We did keep them just to see what happened (quickly switched our study to the life cycle of the wasp larvae!) but it was pretty gross.
I just did a google on that particular wasp and the images returned are exactly what happened to our caterpillars. It is indeed a horrible way to go, but nature is definitely "red in tooth and claw"!
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