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Braconid  Wasp

Family Braconidae

These wasps are usually they are small in size and Braconid wasps family comprise a large group of over 1700 North American species. All are parasites of insects or other arthropods.  Caterpillars are the most frequently targeted by this wasp but they can also parasitize flies, sawflies, wood boring beetles, weevils, leafmining insects, true bugs, and ants. Braconids usually parasitize the immature stages (larvae, pupae, or nymphs) of their hosts.

The adult females have long ovipositor and lays eggs inside of an insect  host.  The larva feeds on the inside of the host until it is ready to pupate.  The wasp can either pupate inside the host, or in the cast of the tomato and tobacco hornworm, pupate on the outside of the host.  Those are the white cocoons you see on their backs, pupa cases for the wasp.  The wasps will then emerge and look for more hosts.

The life cycle length will vary by species.

 

Cocoons of Braconid wasps on back of a tobacco hornworm larva (Manduca sexta).

Thanks to Bob Carlson for the help.

 

 

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