Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Tobacco Hornworm (parasitoid and hyperparasite)

Tobacco Hornworm (parasitoid and hyperparasite)
Oberlin, Ohio, USA
August 24, 2003
I decided to add a close-up of the adult parasitoid from my old caterpillar picture - I wonder if anyone can ID it from this rather fuzzy detail? Kind of looks more like a fly than a wasp, but I really don't know for sure. Would flies make a cocoon like this? Or is this not the creature that came out of these cocoons, just a passing visitor?

I see from further web research that most pupae like this on hornworms are attributed to a braconid wasp, Cotesia congregata.

Images of this individual: tag all
Tobacco Hornworm (parasitized) - Manduca sexta Tobacco Hornworm (parasitized) - Manduca sexta Tobacco Hornworm (parasitoid and hyperparasite)

Identified by Dr. Michael Schauff. The image doesn't suffice for identifying the genus, but it isn't elongate enough to be Horismenus, so he thinks it is likely Pediobius.

Moved from Eulophidae.

Moved from Chalcid Wasps.

Confirming details are missing, but the dark metallic coloration, wing venation, and the fact that the vast majority of Eulophids are primary parasitoids of Lepidoptera suggest this placement. This is not a braconid or a hyperparasitoid.

See reference here.

The claim that this is not a hyperparasitoid seems odd given that four species species of eulophids, two of Horismenus and twoo of Pediobius, are recorded as parasitoids of Cotesia congregata.

Maybe the same species
as this one

It must be a hyperparasitoid, because these are unquestionably Cotesia (Braconidae) cocoons. Or are you saying it parasitized the caterpillar along with the braconids? I did a quick Google search and found an example of a eulophid hyperparasitoid here; South African, yes, but if it's possible there, perhaps it's possible here?

Another reference
This one is very interesting. Hyperparasitoid of Cotesia glomerata in Virginia.

Very nice. I wonder if Tetrastichus (Aprostocetus) galactopus also parasitizes Cotesia congregata, the species that made these cocoons. Since the host braconid is well studied, the Catalogue of Hymenoptera would probably tell us. That's available online at, but I don't have time to look into it at the moment.

Moved from Cotesia congregata.

Moved from Carolina Sphinx.

I found some info on this parasitic wasp at the U. of Kentucky site. I am becoming convinced that it is Cotesia congregata of the Microgastrinae subfamily.

I'm pretty sure that's a chalcidoid wasp, which is likely a hyperparasitoid of the braconid. Here is a photo of Cotesia congregata.

So I was too hasty placing it in Cotesia?
This is even more interesting. What about the other images of presumably Cotesia? I hope that they are right.

Most likely correct---
I'm not an expert, but the photo you linked to certainly looks like a braconid to me.