Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cotesia congregata

We all love tomatoes and are horrified when we find hornworms lurking about in our plants. One of our members not only found hornworms, but hornworms covered with tiny white “things.” Oh horrors! 

These “things” are the larvae of Cotesia congregata, a tiny beneficial parasitoid wasp. The wasp lays its eggs under the skin of a hornworm. As they hatch, the larvae feed on the hornworm’s insides and then chew their way through the hornworm’s skin. They then pupate or spin tiny oval cocoons all along the back and sides of the unfortunate hornworm, which eventually weakens and dies. 

The result: fewer hornworms and more tomatoes for us. So...if you see a hornworm covered with  tiny white ovals, rest assured that you’re about to find one less hornworm in your garden.

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