Subject: Is this a momma with her babies?
Location: Holly Springs, MS.
September 6, 2015 6:36 pm
Hi Bugman!
I saw these little white “things” on my boxwood bush and thought for a split second something had flowered. Upon closer inspection this was a large green caterpillar with a serious looking spike on its tail. I wondered if these are babies attached to her? She was VERY AGGRESSIVE when I tried to handle her. I carefully placed her back on the bush after these pics!
Signature: Stephanie Berry (former bug queen of the day)

Hornworm Parasitized by Braconids

Hornworm Parasitized by Braconids

Dear Stephanie,
Your caterpillar is a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae, and as the caterpillar is a larva, it is not able to reproduce until it becomes a winged adult moth.  This Hornworm has been parasitized by a Braconid Wasp, and the white “things” are the wasp pupae.  The larval Braconid Wasps have been internally feeding on the Hornworm, which is eaten alive.  The adult Braconid Wasps will soon emerge and the Hornworm will die before becoming an adult.  We have not been able to identify the species of Hornworm and we cannot find any information on Hornworms feeding on Boxwood.

Thank you for all the wonderful information!  That’s so sad that the caterpillar was being eaten alive 🙁
I’ve lived here almost 13 years and this is the first time I’ve seen one of these.
Thank you for all you do!!

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Location: Holly Springs, Mississippi

5 Responses to Parasitized Hornworm

  1. Don’t ever squish this if you find one in your garden. The babies will hatch and become more wasps that will keep your tomatoes free of hornworms.

  2. Well, that was a sad ending to that story.

  3. Mother nature, she’s kind of mean some times

  4. Bostjan Dvorak says:

    Interesting finding! – First, the caterpillar seemed like a younger stage of a Sphinx species to me. Sphinx drupiferarum or gordius, I thought. But its roundish head (without any black markings, typical for all those species), shape of its stigmae and the broad white markings of the lateral stripes rather speak for a young Dolba hyloeus (Pawpaw sphinx) larva. I guess the plant called boxwood in Your area is a holly (Ilex sp.). Thanks for sharing! Best wishes,

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