Alyssa Moyer at Kent State University dissected her dead Monarch caterpillar and took this photo (left) of the Tachnid Fly larva that killed it. This fly is a deadly creature that wipes out countless Monarch caterpillars; it is a silent and mostly unseen predator... even to experienced Monarch enthusiasts like Alyssa Moyer. The tiny Tachnid Fly lays its eggs on either the caterpillar or the egg.
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The Monarch goes through its caterpillar and chrysalis stages, unaware that the Tachnid Fly made it its host. The fly uses its eyesight to find the unsuspecting Monarch caterpillar, then uses a piercing ovipositor to inject a fertilized and incubated egg into the Monarch, usually behind the caterpillar's head. The fly egg hatches into a 1st instar of the fly larva and it begins feeding on the hemolymph of the caterpillar. The caterpillar does not die, just yet. In fact, even seasoned Monarch enthusiasts like Alyssa Moyer wouldn't even be aware that their caterpillars are parisitized for they will continue to molt and grow through all their instars with the fly larva inside.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S believes urban sprawl can be offset by creating wildlife-friendly spaces in America's 25,000,000 lawns, one yard at a time! Click HERE to learn why. A portion of Ad revenues (10%) will be donated to Monarch Watch, earmarked for their Monarch Waystation program. Do you have a wildlife-friendly space? Please share it! Contact us on the secure Bpath Mail Form.