(Warning: watching this video may cause uncomfortable squirminess and spine-tingling shivers)
To balance out our latest video post of a cute caterpillar dressing up in dainty flower petals, here is a slightly rawer view of nature and the extreme challenges caterpillars face. Let us know if you watched our parasitoid feature through to its end. Do you feel better or worse about these creatures now?
Take a minute to think of the world from a parasitoid's point of view and see them not just as the killers of cuddly caterpillars, but as animals struggling to survive like everything else. These pale and wriggling larvae are the children of an incredible diversity of wasps and flies that have found a unique path through life. They go through all the same steps of metamorphosis as their hosts, but they must pass through other bodies to do it. Cycles of metamorphosis within cycles of metamorphosis.
There are so many parasitoid stories to tell: zombie makers, mummy makers, eusocial parasitoids, parasitic caterpillars, egg parasitoids, parasitoid-caterpillar coevolution, parasitoid-plant-caterpillar interactions, parasitoid competition, and on and on. Hopefully we can explore some of these details as the 2017 season begins!
The Caterpillar Lab