I had a great surprise in the garden today! Lots of tiny ones, in fact.
I was trimming some of the Upo (aka'Long Melon') leaves – they grow very densely and are shading out the Capsicum in the bioponics – when I turned one over and something moved on the underside.
It was a little dry brown cigar shaped object, a little bigger than two of those chicken feed pellets laid end to end. It was just held on to a small patch of webbing by a tiny thread. I gave it a little poke and it broke up into lots of tiny pieces. Then, I had a flash of inspiration, realised what it was and rushed for my camera.
As you’ve probably read before on this blog before, tiny parasitoid wasps lay their eggs in caterpillars. The eggs hatch and the larvae eat the caterpillar from the inside out. Yes, while it’s still alive!
I’d accidentally disturbed the process and the tiny things are Wasp larvae! Wow! What a thing to see! I’ve always just assumed that there would be only a few eggs per caterpillar but there are scores here. Either these are the larvae themselves (though they’re not moving) or they’re the pupae ready to release adult wasps. I think that’s the most likely.
After photographing, I put the leaf holding themselves back under the Upo and partially covered it. I hope I haven’t disturbed things too much and the Wasps will all hatch and run amok on the caterpillar population.
Next, I’ve got to try to get a pic of a Wasp hatching but, with my shaky hands, I’m not sure about that. Wish me luck!