Friday, October 7, 2011

The caterpillar mystery solved?

Received today from the Melbourne Museum

Hi Kirsty, sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

From the images it looks like your caterpillar may have been parasitized. Have a look at the link below and the parasitic wasp cocoons on this caterpillar look quite similar to the ones you have. If this is the case, it is nothing you did wrong, it just means a wasp had got there first and laid eggs on the caterpillar.

Kind Regards, Simon.

Parasitized caterpillar covered with wasp pupae, Costa Rica

For those of you who haven't been following I have been blogging about our pet caterpillar that died before it grew wings and flew.

Perhaps the picture below is not a cocoon (as we thought) but wasp pupae, poor caterpillar didn't stand a chance. Makes me feel a little better that we weren't poor caterpillar carers. Wished we'd waited for the wasps to emerge to see who was the culprit. I hope they were the bad bug eating wasps. At least some good may have come from our caterpillar tragedy. What a nasty survival technique, laying your eggs on another living thing then letting your young slowly kill it, could make a good movie.

parasitoid wasp Wasp in action.


  1. Thank you for this update; i have been thinking about the little guy.
    Imagine, a wasp. Hard, or impossible, to have known without a bachelor degree in caterpillars.


In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young