Sunday, July 01, 2012
Mourning Cloaks, 0 for 2
So, that second bunch of mourning cloak eggs that I was watching has also failed. This time, if was definitely parasites. Each empty egg shell that you see had a tiny Telenomus wasp in it. I looked for information on these parasitic insects. They go through their whole metamorphosis inside the butterfly's eggs in just a few days. The caterpillars never have a chance. And it seems like the adult wasps are ready to lay their eggs right as the butterfly is laying hers. Just look at the photo below. I took it while she was laying her eggs, and you can actually see two Telenomus hovering just to the left.
I don't know how these wasps find their hosts so quickly. Maybe they are honing in on a scent, or maybe they have been clinging to the body of the butterfly for some time, just waiting for her to lay her eggs.
The beige-colored eggs in the top photo never hatched either. I don't know why.