Hornworm vs. braconid wasp

This summer, I resisted the urge to kill the tomato hornworms in the garden. Instead I let the braconid wasps, tiny delicate creatures, lay their eggs on the backs of the worms. I counted about six infected hornworms the day I took these pictures.

Allowing the worms to live and accepting some damage to the garden also allows more wasps to develop and be a part of our little ecosystem. The wasp larva develop feeding off of the worms. The host is killed in the process.

Following are pictures of worms at advancing stages of the process.


This hornworm hasn’t met a wasp yet. If I came back in a day or two, it probably would have eggs laid on its back.


Still alive and somewhat active.


This worm has succumbed and died.


If you look closely you can see that the cases are cut open and the young have moved on.


Slowing down.

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