Sunday, December 17, 2006

Braconid Wasp


I came across an odd looking wasp that I had never seen before. After doing a little research I found that it's a specie of Braconid wasp. What was interesting about it was the long "stinger" looking projection off the end of its abdomen. This "stinger" is actually not a stinger at all, but an ovipositer, which by the way are only found on females. The female searches out a suitable host, usually caterpillars by feeling with her long antenna. Once a host is found she uses her ovipositer to literally inject her eggs into it. As the larvae develop they feed on the host and eventually eat their way out. Once outside they spin themselves into a silky cocoon, which by the way stays attached to the outside of the caterpillar until it emerges as a wasp. These along with other parasitic wasps are beneficial and are a natural means of controlling pests such as aphids and tomato hornworms, the caterpillar of the tomato hornworm moth. Click on the photo for a closer view.

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