Friday, 24 August 2012

Darwin Syndrome

There is a website dedicated to people who have done idiotic things and have died in the process... The Darwin Awards...    [this Video is the 2012 winner].  
But today I found a Peacock butterfly caterpillar that deserves it's place in the Darwin Awards record....

Most choose sensible places to hang around for the pupal stage... like these.

Tucked safely away behind a spider's web...

But occasionally the brain-cell must have "gone fishing".... look at this fellow...

This is the start of the process... yesterday.
Look at the top right... it should show where it has hung itself.

Yes... it has attached itself to a petal on a Pelargonium
A down-to-earth move!

He's going to drop off soon!

But all is immaterial... look closer at the above picture of the pupa and you will see that he's got visitors.

Two small parasitic wasps looking for a soft spot!
The old skin is bunched up at the top.

Even the one that was behind the spider's web isn't safe....

The ovipositor is indicated by the red arrow.
This is the caterpillar on the right of the first photo.

Susan of Days on the Claise and Loire Valley Nature will probably be able to furnish the name of the wasp and I'll update the entry from her comment.

This is the email that Susan sent: "Based on some quick internet research, your parasitoid wasp is the Chalcid (Pteromalidae) Pteromalus puparum. They are widely used as a biocontrol for Pierids and are known to go for Vanessids (like Peacocks and Admirals) as well. They only lay in newly formed soft chrysalises."


Susan said...

You over estimate my powers :-) Small parastic wasps - damn near impossible even if you are an expert. Find me something being parasitised by a fly and I will happily ID it though.

Do you want me to ask on the HymIS forum what it is likely to be. (The answer is likely to be 'can't tell from photo, could be any number of similar species, including a few unknown ones.')

Susan said...

PS. some very nice reportage there. The HymIS guys might be interested in that.

Susan said...

As it turns out, this was easier to ID than I thought. It is probably Pteromalus puparum.