Parasitized caterpillar

Title Info
Common name Caterpillar, Saturniid
Scientific name Saturniidae
Taxonomic group Lepidoptera
Source Dan L. Perlman
Ecological interactions Parasitism
Organisms Animals
Animals Insects
Lessons Parasitism
Date 1988
Location Monteverde,Puntarenas,Costa Rica,North America

Parasitized caterpillar, covered with wasp pupae, Monteverde, Costa Rica. The spines on this large, robust caterpillar were no protection against the parasitic wasp that laid her eggs on or in the caterpillar's body. The parasitic wasp larvae ate most of their host, avoiding the vital organs, so that the caterpillar stayed alive. After they developed, the wasp larvae spun cocoons and pupated on the outside of the caterpillar's body; the white structures seen among the spines are the cocoons of the wasp pupae. Although the caterpillar was still moving when this image was taken, there was no chance that it would itself pupate and become an adult moth.