Tomato Hornworm parasitized by Braconid Wasps

What’s this bug
Location: West Virginia
June 30, 2011 2:53 pm
Hi there. I have seen this guy twice now and have no idea what kind of critter it is. Any ideas? Thanks much.
Signature: Bill Wells

Tomato Hornworm parasitized by Braconid Wasp

Hi Bill,
The caterpillar is a Tomato Hornworm, and it has been parasitized by a Braconid Wasp.  The female Braconid Wasp lays her eggs inside the body of the Hornworm, and the larval wasps feed on the tissues of the Hornworm.  Eventually, the Braconid Larvae burrow to the surface and form cocoons, which is what you are seeing.  Here is a nice set of images from BugGuide.  The Hornworm will not live to metamorphose into a moth.

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