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Braconid Wasp



This small wasp was only a 3 mm long and was parasitizing a Spotless Ladybug larvae over and over. It definitely hurt the larva as it moved away and relieved itself. This series is in order.


Lantana in the backyard

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Sadly my attempt at rearing the larvae failed despite my best efforts :(

Great information! Thank you Karen for selecting this as the Fun Fact :)

KarenL 5 years ago

Fun fact! Unlike their larger more aggressive cousins like the yellow-jackets, braconid wasps are innocuous, stingless and so tiny they are rarely noticed. In fact, many species are considered gardeners’ friends, as they parasitize common pests such as aphids and caterpillars. Different species of wasps target different stages in their host’s life cycle; egg parasitoids inject their larvae directly into the host’s egg, whereas larval parasitoids deposit eggs on (or in) the larval stage of the host. The wasps’ larvae consume their host from within, before emerging to pupate, hatch as adults and start the cycle all over again. https://upload.facebook.com/projectnoah/...

Sergio Monteiro
Sergio Monteiro 5 years ago

Wonderful spotting, Cindy. Yes, it is rather sad, but that is nature at its full grandeur. stho002, what an amazing thought, the possibility of the aphids to be able to turn one agressor against the other! A never stopping armaments race!

stho002 5 years ago

Since the ladybird larva is probably an aphid predator, I wonder some chemical from aphids is attracting the wasp to the ladybird larva?

beaker98 5 years ago

Awesome series Cindy!

John La Salle
John La Salle 5 years ago

Cindy - tough question. Lots of variability and factors at play (number of generations per year, time of year, temperature, photoperiod/day length). I would guess about a month - but that is a guess. The trick that plagues everyone trying to rear parastiic wasp from their hosts is maintaining the host in suitable condition for the wasp development. It can be really hit and miss, and I have missed many a time. Try to keep the ladybug larvae in as near to field conditions as possible.

Thank you both for the informative conversation! I believe I have captured the correct larvae and will attempt to rear it to determine if indeed the wasp attacked it. Any idea how long before potential emergence?

Sckel 5 years ago

wonderful info, john, thanks for your response to my observation. this year, scale insects are coming back in full force. I'll watch for the arrival of predators. :) and thanks to Cindy for sharing these interesting images.

John La Salle
John La Salle 5 years ago

Hi Sckel. You are absolutely correct - there are quite a few parasitic wasps that can parasitize larvae of ladybugs. However, members of this group are understood to be only aphid parasites. Various groups of wasps have differing degrees of specialization. Some families or subfamilies are quite limited in their range of hosts, often to a single family such as ants or aphids. Others can attack an amazingly wide variety of hosts. Others attack only a single host stage, and several groups are known which only parasitize eggs.

Sckel 5 years ago

Hi, Cindy and John. I think parasitic wasps can parasitize larvae of ladybugs. I say this because last year, a plant in my backyard was infested with ladybugs. All went well until the larvae began to die strangely, they died before completing the cycle and turns into ladybugs, and had a single hole in the body. I did not take pictures. :(

John La Salle
John La Salle 5 years ago

That would be good. It would be quite cool to actually rear an aphidiine from something other than an aphid.

Hi John, that is interesting. There wasn't an aphid on the leaf after the larvae moved off. It appeared to be attacking the larvae based on the sudden jerks the larvae was making when the wasp poked it. I may look for the larvae in the morning and hold it to see what happens.

John La Salle
John La Salle 5 years ago

Very interesting. The wasp is in the braconid subfamily Aphidiinae.
The Aphidiinae are aphid parasitoids. I don't believe any have ever been recorded from ladybird larvae. So, it is possible that this wasp was reaching under the ladybird to attack an aphid (I looked through the whole series and didn't really see an aphid under there); or it is a very confused wasp, or it is parasitizing the larvae - which would be pretty interesting..

Thank you Luis! It was sad to watch :(

LuisStevens 5 years ago

Great series Cindy!

San Diego, California, USA

Lat: 33.14, Long: -117.03

Spotted on Feb 1, 2014
Submitted on Feb 2, 2014

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