Yellow Admiral and Pteromalus puparum

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  • #14977

    Rob
    Participant

    Have posted some photos of Pteromalus puparum as a pictoral reference for what this beast does to a yellow admiral pupa. I never knew just how effective this wasp was till I started breeding admirals.

    Now that Oratia native plant nursary has got nettles in stock, remember that this little wasp will be arround.

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  • #28331

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Ouch, Rob! That sounds pretty scarey. 🙁 Keep away from hornets, whether they’re giants or not.

    Jacqui

    #28330

    Rob
    Participant

    I once photographed a giant hornet nest in Borneo. The hornets were large tropical beasts, jet black with a red ring on the abdomen. At the time i was unaware of flight paths and carefully approached the nest directly through the flight path. Got fantastic photos and one hornet stuck in my hair. Naturally i backed off…I knew what was comming next. The hornet soon discovered it couldent free itself it began to panic….as did I only I wasent going to let the hornets know that!!! Bernadette told me the sting was an inch long. The rest of the day I watched the entire right hand side of my face swell up into a baloon.

    I thought I was a scientist but later in life I realised I just loved being immersed in nature, in particular butterflies. Had a go breeding Red Admirals a year ago, and will try again this year. Am looking at using something bigger than a 2X3 meter shadehouse. Initally will start with that size but am hoping to construct something to see how well the Reds keep in captivity. Nice to see somany people intrested in butterflies on the forum…very encouraging

    #28328

    Terry
    Participant

    Hi Rob

    It’s a real pain once parasitic wasps gain entry to the Butterfly House because any larvae you miss that try to pupate are doomed to be parasitised and of course that means more parasitic wasps for the next generation to cope with. We in the UK have many different parasites to contend with, that attack my Yellow Admirals and our Red Admiral and Painted lady larvae and pupae but fortunately, we don’t have the Problem social wasps like Asian Paper wasps as you do in NZ, I have read the terrible reports on this site about how they cart off your larvae to be eaten and I am very pleased we have nothing quite as bad as those to contend with. Our 2 main social wasps are vespula vulgaris, the common wasp and vespula germanica European or German Wasp we also have an increasing population of Hornet vespa crabro, and I have seen them catch honey bees and cart them of to there nests to feed the larvae. I know they eat Butterfly larvae but have not seen them do this myself. I am actually pleased they are making a comeback after nearly disappearing completely from the UK, They are a very large and very Beautiful wasp, but getting too close to the nest is a bad idea. They sting very easily if disturbed so it’s best to be very respectful and don’t antagonise them. Bee Keepers don’t like them at all as they take many honey bees each year for food.

    As a person who loves science but also has a non scientific soft caring side, I would have struggled to watch as you did the 2 Pteromalus puparum, inject there eggs into the Yellow Admiral pupae, my first reaction is to squash the little sods when I find them, But as I said that’s not very scientific of me is it?

    #28326

    Anna
    Participant

    Norm, I have just found the name of what I think it is from the book by Rob Lucas (Managing pests and diseases) pg 322….Copidosoma wasps

    #28325

    Anna
    Participant

    Norm, I’ll take some photos once the camera battery has charged up. I’ll try and get one of both wasps together too for comparison. Using the microscope I noticed their wings looked different….and they are smaller than the Pteromalus.

    They started to emerge from a green looper caterpillar that had attempted to pupae…it went a strange light greenish colour, so I put it into a container on its own to see how it developed.

    #28324

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    Hi Anna,
    Sounds intriguing. Do you have a photo of the smaller wasps? And was it the pupa or caterpillar they emerged from.

    #28323

    Anna
    Participant

    Its good to have the reminder to look out for them Rob. I found some last breeding season, and have kept a parasitised pupae along with the dead Pteromalus pupariun in a petrie dish to show anyone interested in rearing butterflies.

    I have another even tinier wasp in another dish that had killed a hoop caterpillar. Theres about 50 tiny wasps that emerged, but they look different and smaller than the Pteromalus. I’d love to know what that one is.

    #28317

    Rob
    Participant

    Hi Terry, I have had a very nomadic lifestyle and in the process made portable shade houses and dragged nettles all over the countryside. I made a makeshift wasp proof tent inside my yellow admiral shade house, into which I placed ‘mature’ (large and fattened up) caterpillars. They could pupate in peace inside this tent on the nettle bush I had for their comfort etc. Once pupated there they would hatch out and I could release them back into the shade house. Caterpillars I missed were not so lucky. I didn?t have time to spend hours with my plants & bugs. It was literally time out to enjoy a passion. Caterpillars I missed soon helped build the Pteromalus puparum population. The photo I have of two of these parasites on one pupae is a result of a healthy puparum population at work. I observed them at work on this pupa all morning and well into the afternoon. Initially there were three, but two parasites spent a good deal of time on this pupa. I did not watch long enough, or even think of who was doing the egg laying, to see what each wasp was actually doing. It was hard enough to watch the little pupa wince with each egg deposited.

    #28321

    Terry
    Participant

    Norm is correct, these are a very prolific little parasite. Although my Admiral larvae are nearly always protected from them. It is not unusual to find many of these wasps sitting on the mesh of cages kept outside trying to find a way in because they can “sense” from a great distance when a larvae is about to pupate and then seek them out. I take great care when opening zips on cages that even “one” does not sneak in or it spells disaster for at least a few pupae. I am still unsure if one female stings only one pupae or many but they are so small that when I think one gained entry it could be many. I am amazed at how they will walk all over the cage and any gap large enough to squeeze through and they are in.

    #28318

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Photos are here:

    Pteromalus puparum

    #28315

    NormTwigge
    Participant

    For sure they are a destructive little beast, but then that is why they were introduced, to help combat the white butterfly. I have dissected a few infected pupae and found 150 – 160 grubs in the one pupa, so caterpillars ready to pupate are best contained in a ‘castle’ or similar cage covered with fine muslin or similar as a preventative, otherwise large losses can be expected.

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