Sunday, February 19, 2017
Wasp-eating moth fills rare niche
Sooty-winged Chalcoela moth/Jim McCormac/For the Dispatch
Scroll to bottom of post for more photos
February 19, 2017
One August evening last summer, I was in Adams County in southern Ohio shining specialized lights on white sheets with some expert lepidopterists.
We were trapping moths deep in the midst of the Nature Conservancy's Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve, which encompasses 20,000 acres. "The Edge" harbors some of the richest biodiversity in the Midwest.
An active paper wasp nest, fiercely guarded by its inhabitants. This is the actual nest that was parasitized by the moth in the accompanying images.
A sooty-winged chalcoela caterpillar peeks from a cell in the wasp nest.
A closer view of the caterpillar. This is its head, and the foremost three pairs of legs (thoracic prolegs)
A caterpillar, removed for inspection. It is the spitting image of the wasp grubs that it consumes; maybe visual trickery plays a role in protecting it from wasps.
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