a strange large bug in our garden
Location:  West Mifflin, Pa, 6 miles south of Pittsburgh PA in our garden
August 19, 2010 6:17 pm
We found this on our tomato plants & we have never seen anything like this. Any information you can share with us about it would be greatly appreciated, including what are the white things attached to it? Should we be concerned for any reason or take precautions, or just ignore it?
Thank you, Crystal Lyons

Tomato Bug

Hi Crystal,
Alas, your Tomato Bug is not long for this world as it has been parasitized by a Braconid Wasp, mostly small wasps that lay their eggs inside of living insects, often caterpillars.  The female Braconid Wasp has an ovipositor and she injects the living hosts with an egg mass.  The Larval Braconid Wasps feed on the internal organs of the
caterpillar, being careful to stay clear of vital organs that would cause the caterpillar to die and the caterpillar flesh to putrify and dry out, an unappetizing meal for the Braconid Larvae.  According to BugGuide, the Braconid Wasp that parasitizes the Tomato Bugs is Cotesia congregata.  Please forgive us for using a very non-entomological term, Tomato Bug.  Grandma used to call any large, green caterpillar with a horn a Tomato Bug.  She didn’t care if it was the Tobacco Hornworm, Manduca sexta (see BugGuide), or the Tomato Hornworm, Manduca quinquemaculata (see BugGuide).  She didn’t know it is not a True Bug in the suborder Heteroptera (See BugGuide).

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