Sunday, August 30, 2009

Calling All Hornworms

People give me the strangest things.

This beautiful snail was given to me by Samual Humphries. He found it stuck between his toes on the bottom of Lake Greenwood...

This week I was given a snake skeleton and a bat. Students have given me elephant skin, zebra skin, Megaladon teeth, turkey feet, and many other strange things. I love all of it!
This beautiful creature was found on my parent's tomato plants. Can you see him?

Check out these beautiful spiracles. They are external tracheal apertures that act like blowholes on the sides of the thorax and the abdomen.

This caterpillar is very large and about to pupate.

Check out those gorgeous legs. Caterpillars have six legs like all insects and they are located on the thorax. The rest of the legs are "fake" and are called prolegs.

One day, the caterpillar became very restless. I decided to put a cup with soil in the enclosure and see if he would burrow down and pupate.

Within seconds, he burrowed down into the soil. Can you see the last remnants of his green body about to go under the soil?
After a few days, I dumped soil out of the cup to see what was happening. Look what the caterpillar has turned into now! When I touched him, he was still able to do some wiggling. I put him back in the cup with soil. In a couple of weeks I am hoping a Sphinx Moth or Hawk Moth will emerge from the ground.

This unfortunate Hornworm is not ever going to live. He was infected with wasp eggs and the wasp larva will eventually kill him. Polistes wasp

If you observe such projections, the Hornworms should be left in the garden to conserve the beneficial parasitoids. In other words, let nature do it's work. My sister had a student pick them off his caterpillar. The poor child was so upset about the caterpillar being so mistreated!!

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