Parasitic wasps… The coolest insects ever

The photo below is something I have seen in my garden dozens of times this year and it always makes me smile (a somewhat dastardly smile).  That’s because these tomato hornworms are being parasitized by braconid wasps.   The adult wasps (only about 1/8″ long and not harmful to humans) lay their eggs on the backs of these voracious tomato eaters, the eggs hatch, and then, well, the baby wasps consume the hornworm from the inside out.  Not the most pleasant concept in the world, but it means that our lovely Matt’s wild cherry red tomatoes will survive to see another farmer’s market.

I believe our parasitic wasp count is so high because we use no pesticides or herbicides and leave plenty of uncut pasture on the farm each year to give habitat to as diverse an array of critters as possible all year long.

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