Cupha erymanthis. A butterfly caterpillar standing guard...
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Photo Details

Image #cld1700427
SpeciesCupha erymanthis
LocalitySarawak, Malaysia
DescriptionA butterfly caterpillar standing guard over a clutch of parasitic wasp pupae that recently hatched from its body. Having been impregnated by eggs from a female wasp, the larvae develop within the caterpillar, consuming its flesh as they grow. In order to keep their host alive, the wasp larvae are careful to avoid all vital organs and the caterpillar thus appears and behaves rather normal until the larvae eventually emerge. In a similar vein to the mind-controlled zombie ants, the wasp larvae also secrete some cocktail of hormones that modify the behavior of the caterpillar, in this case it is induced to stand guard and protect the wasp pupae from predators or other parasitic wasps until it eventually dies of starvation. 
Keywordsborneo | braconidae | butterfly | caterpillar | fauna | hymenoptera | insect | larvae | lepidoptera | mulu | nymphalidae | parasite | parasitic | parasitoid | pupae | wasp

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