caterpillar covered with white things

Asked July 22, 2019, 12:02 PM EDT

We found this caterpillar on one of our tomato plants. Can you tell us what the white things are? Thank you.

Anne Arundel County Maryland vegetables pest insects and mites beneficial insects and pollinators

1 Response

Hi- you are witnessing natural control of an insect pest (hornworm) by a tiny parasitic wasp. The white things are cocoons that the wasp larvae have spun after feeding inside the hornworm. A small adult wasp will cut a hole in the top and emerge. Always leave these parasitized hornworms alone so the wasp can continue its lifecycle. A large percentage of hornworms are controlled this way.
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/braconids-ichneumonoid-wasps
Jon