I posted these on Facebook, but I had to share on the blog, too. Came across these colorful hornworms while weeding carrots. Anyone know what they are? Seems they are some sort of Sphinx or Hummingbird moths, but I found nothing specific.
Here’s another garden beneficial…an interesting, alien looking predator.
A fun fact from the Texas A&M Entomology site:
While they consume pests such as flies, crickets, moths and mosquitoes, they also devour other beneficial insects, including each other. Larger species (especially those in tropical areas) will chow down on lizards, small mammals and even hummingbirds.
Lizards? Small mammals? Even…hummingbirds? WOW!
Parasitoid. A parasite that can kill its host. As in a Braconid wasp. A friend of the garden.
What does a destroying parasitoid look like?
Here’s a guy in serious trouble. I found him this morning:
This tomato hornworm is riddled with larva that have eaten their way through the skin (from the inside out) to pupate. A wasp in the braconid family deposited eggs just beneath this caterpillar’s skin where the eggs developed until this point, dining away at the insides of the caterpillar. When the pupae are mature, and the adult wasps emerge, this caterpillar will die.
The possibility of having this beneficial wasp in the garden makes it worth keeping a few hornworms around…just in case this happens…