Return of the Aliens

Remember this post… Alien Invasion?

Earlier this summer, I found a big, juicy hornworm on one of my tomato plants. As you can plainly see, my hornworm friends have returned to the garden. This afternoon, while planning my fall garden, I found three of these monsters chowing on my bell pepper plants. This time, however, they had friends on their backs!

Actually, those little bits of “rice” on the back of this hornworm are his worst enemy – the braconid wasp. It lays its eggs inside the hornworm. Ahhhhh! I can’t type this without getting the shivers. As the eggs hatch, the future wasps (“rice”) eat their way out. Apparently, you’re in luck if your hornworms are covered with white larvae. From what I’ve read, it’s best to let nature take its course. Eventually, the emerging larvae kill the hornworm. After the wasps hatch, you will have plenty of natural protection from future hornworms. We’ll see about that!

In the meantime, Ahhhhh!!!

Chinese takeout anyone? No? How about a tic tac?



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14 thoughts on “Return of the Aliens

  1. Awwwww… come on! It’s almost bedtime! There isn’t much I can’t handle but these rice covered green mush worms really creep me out.

  2. Yikes!! That is my least favorite part of gardening, this week I found squash nymphs in my garden, pretty gross. Great that the hornworm has a natural predator, but what a way to go though, eek!!

  3. Hi there – some much for mother nature being a gentle soul! The more you look the stranger things seem!

    For all my biology background the wasps that eat caterpillars and spiders from the inside out still make my toes curl!

    Interesting picture.

    Cheers SM

  4. I love this post. The idea of a parasitic wasp laying eggs on its prey is amazing. I have seen it in my garden a few times. Sad for the hornworm, but it’s either that or I have to touch em, yuck.

  5. Guess what I found in my garden when I disassembled it last Sunday. A smaller version of this alien was living in my garden. I noticed that many of the leaves on my pepper plants were getting large holes in them. Since the garden was nearing the end, I did not look into the reason why. I was surprised when I saw it though.

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