Skip Navigation

Species Search:
Ask an Expertthreatened and/or endangered

little white cocoons covering a caterpillar

I live in midwestern Ohio and I was looking through our garden today when I noticed a hawk moth caterpillar hanging from a tomato plant. Thats not really all that strange but when I looked closer, there where hundreds of little white cocoon's attached to it over the whole length of its body. Each cocoon is a little less than 2 mm long and 1 mm wide and is made of hard silk. When i cut one open there was a little white larva in it with 2 little red dots for eyes. I just wanted to know what kind of bug laid them on it.

Wildlife Expert - Ken Burton

These are Braconid wasps. Braconids are small, parasitic wasps that lay their eggs on moth caterpillars. The wasp larvae, when they hatch, burrow into the caterpillar and start eating it. The caterpillar soon stops eating. When they're ready to pupate, the wasp larvae cut holes in the caterpillar's skin, emerge, and make the cocoons that you saw. The caterpillar always is killed in the process, either during or shortly after the wasp pupation - a perfect example of biological pest control!

Additional information on the web:
Related to this Question

Tomato Hornworm
Manduca quinquemaculata

New Search