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BST's and Red Wasps

Posted by coolbutterfly 4b (My Page) on
Sun, Sep 18, 11 at 13:47

I have had some BST's hatch in the last couple weeks. The only problem is they haven't been hatching BST's!

There have so many wasps around the fennel, it probably wasn't a good idea to being in large cats.

The funny thing is, I don't ever remember seeing the wasps flying around.

http://lifesalasagna.blogspot.com/2011/08/black-swallowtail-project-2011-day-29.html

I have one chrysalis left but I'm not very hopeful of what lurks inside...

Thankfully, I still have two 1st instar cats from eggs, so I should have some BST's to release next spring, Tony

Here is a link that might be useful: Red Wasp Predator


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

That red wasp is not parasitic. It is a predator, but not a parasite. Red wasps are in fact, more gentle and far less aggressive than the guinea wasps so common in Oklahoma.


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

Hi Tony;
It is probably Trogus pennator, a common parasitoid of swallowtail butterflies. It is an ichnuemon wasp. If you watch your flowers you may see some of these and other wasps feeding there. Sometimes you can see these wasps searching plants for caterpilalrs.
Good luck,
Elisabeth

Here is a link that might be useful: Trogus pennator


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

tomato worm...what do you mean it's not parasitic? 4 of those wasps have emerged from my BST chrysalides.

elisabeth...I've seen plenty of wasps on the fennel, but never the ichnuemon...the only time I see them is after they bore their way out of the chrysalis

Tony


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

Tony, Sorry to hear about those wasps. The first year that I raised Black Swallowtails I didn't bring some in until they were fairly big and had the same thing happen that you mentioned except those wasps were different looking than yours. Those darn wasps came out of the pupae instead of the butterflies. It was so disappointing. They overwintered and came out the next spring. From then on I tried to make it a point to bring the butterfly eggs if I could. There just seem to be so many things needing my attention that I don't always get to cats as soon as I'd like and this year I've had a lot of parasiticism going on with the Monarchs. I bring them in anyway even if they're pretty big because if I leave them outside and flies/wasps come out of cats, then they're free to fly and get to more cats. If they're inside, I can dispose of them. I really hope that you get to see some BSTs come out of the pupae that you have yet.
Cathy


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

Tony;
I am finding that different flowers attract different species, per my research and experience. On my joe pye weed, swamp milkweed, and boneset, I see tons of bees and wasps including some really interesting parasitoid wasps. There was one just a couple weeks ago that looked amazing. I will have to post it someday. Wasps,bees, and ants are the second(?)largest groups of insects (I think flies might be bigger but they are still counting :)). Wasps form the biggest group,and parasitoid wasps the largest of that group. You will see all kinds of wasps on the right flowers. I think it really depends on the flowers. I am not finding any on my zinnias and lantana. I think they really key in on a specific shape and type. When the boneset is in bloom it is covered with all types of bees and wasps. Look closely because many are tiny and some are huge. Fascinating group.
-Elisabeth


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

Hi Cathy,

I have had four BST's hatch this summer so it hasn't been a total loss. I also have one instar2 and one instar1 cat remaining (from eggs) so there's always next spring.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the last pupa. we'll see what happens.

I also bring the big monarchs cats in. I only leave them if I can see visible marks on their bodies that look suspicious. most of the monarchs have been alright but I had 4 or 5 that were the victim of flies. I think this is less of a problem up north though.

Good luck with your monarchs, Tony


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

Cool, the pic of the dead wasp looks just like our regular red wasps, a colonial paper nest builder. It must be a different species. The red wasps I speak of, are the size of any normal paper wasps [Polistes species, guineas and yellow jackets]. A parasitic wasp is typically much smaller. The largest ones I've seen are the brown or mahogany ichneumons, but they usually lay only egg in each caterpillar.
Parasitic wasps are also solitary and for obvious reasons, do not build nests.


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

I was so sad to see this same wasp come out of one of my chrysalises. I thought my Eastern Tiger caterpillar was overwintering, come to find out there's a wasp in the butterfly house instead.

How could it have gotten there? I got the caterpillar while it was in its 2nd instar stage--very, very little and it has been indoors ever since. Could it have been attacked by the wasp that early? Poor baby. :(


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

I'm sorry so many of you are having disappointing experiences due to the wasps. But, they're actually equally fascinating and precious creatures. The very diversity of critters that exist is what maintains the precious balance and keeps everything running the way it should. I know it's hard to love a wasp the way we love butterflies, but they need to live, too. And we need them to live. Good luck next year!

Martha


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

Kerrie, sorry to hear you experienced the same problems.

I had a late batch of BST's on parsley and thankfully no wasps this time. :) All the chrysalides are overwintering in the porch.

To combat this problem in the future, I am planning to pot parsley plants as they are not frequented by wasps.

Fennel seems to be a preferred egg laying and caterpillar munching plant BUT I am going to try and raise the cats on alternative plants to cut down on the parasitic issues. (I will still keep 1 or 2 fennel plants to attract the egg layers.)

I'll let you know if my plan cuts down the casualties next season...Tony


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

"How could it have gotten there? I got the caterpillar while it was in its 2nd instar stage--very, very little and it has been indoors ever since. Could it have been attacked by the wasp that early?"

Wasps can parasitize lepidoptera in any stage, but most commonly from egg to pupa, by either ovipositing inside them or on the outside of the choosen host. Their larva can then grow within them without killing them until they themselves pupate or emerge. Almost all wasps worldwide are parasitic in one form or another, not just those commonly associated with Lepidoptera. Some years here on the desert the infestations are so heavy in lepidopteran livestock it's nearly impossible to find untouched livestock. I can't begin to count the number of times I've traveled great distances to obtain wild livestock, and reared robust larvae only to be rewarded with parasitoids in the last instar larvae or pupae. In part why I learned very early on how to "hand pair" any species of lepidoptera, and built my own controlled habitat rearing cages with glass sides and a tight fitting very fine mesh net top and cover for the water bath under the cage. With that I seldom had to deal with parasitoids again.

Larry


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

wow,

I didn't realize that eggs could be parasitized! I'm guessing (ok,hoping) that's not as common since eggs are more difficult to find.

Tony


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RE: BST's and Red Wasps

That's just sad that the caterpillars live with those parasites only to die later... :( But they couldn't have eaten a wasp egg with the leaves right?

Anyway, I'm a preschool teacher and my class and I have reared two Eastern Tiger Swallowtails from early instars into butterflies (we found them on our school fence.)
So, I brought this wasp to school to show my four-year-old students how things like this could happen. And while they would love to squash the wasp for killing our Dobby (yes, we named our caterpillars haha) it was still good to teach them the life cycle of the butterfly this way. I think it would soon be time to release the wasp in the 30-ish degree weather...


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