September 28, 2010

As Promised, A Parasitized Tomato Worm...

At first glance this might look like some kind of freaky flower. It's not a flower.

Look again... Here's the same picture, cropped. Do you see the tomato worm under all those white tubular things?
A while back I posted about tomato worms.

There are pictures of healthy tomato worms in that post. This worm is not healthy. This worm is dying. There is a kind of wasp that lays it's eggs on tomato worms. The eggs turn into cocoons. The wasp larva inside the cocoons feed on the body of the tomato worm. And the tomato worm dies... or something like that. Please remember that I'm just a homegrown countrygirl, not an entomologist! If you happen to have found this post because you're writing a school report about tomato worms, you might want to do a little more research, just to be sure.

Interestingly, the tomato worm, itself, is also a larva. The tomato worm is the larva of a kind of moth. So when this happens the wasp larva are feeding on a moth larva.

It's an interesting world, isn't it?

Something else that's interesting... in the earlier tomato worm post I described a tomato worm with wasp cocoons on it as looking "like it has grains of white rice lined up all across it's back."

But this picture doesn't look like that at all! Strange. To the naked eye a parasite covered tomato worm looks like it has grains of white rice lined up all across it's back. In fact, that is exactly what this one looked like when I took the photo.

Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the picture on the computer... and saw that it really looked like this! Who knew?!

Isn't it funny how a camera can see things that our eyes can't!


Farmgirl Susan said...

Great photo! I, too, always thought they looked like grains of rice. It looks like maybe the tops have popped off - for the larva to get out? I'll have to examine one more closely next time. Not that I'm hoping for tomato hornworms in my garden! ;)

homegrown countrygirl said...

Farmgirl Susan, that's what I suspect, too... that the larva had come out, leaving their empty shells on the dying tomato worm. So funny that the cocoons didn't look open like this to my naked eye... it makes me wonder about all the things our eyes can't see!