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A butterfly and its parasitoids

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Published on Jul 14, 2011

Ermine moths live inside weaves that they spin over the surfaces of plants. There they feed on the leaves and finally pupate to adult butterflies. There exist animal species being adapted into feeding on these caterpillars in their weaves . These are so called parasitoids, which first parasite on their hosts, which they finally kill. Parasitoids of caterpillars often belong to the Tachinidae, a group offlies (Diptera). The plant leaves presented in this film are covered by an undetermined species of ermine moths. It was transferred into my home and has been there observed for about 3-4 weeks.
Larvae of tachinid flies were already living parasitically inside these caterpillars. That means: Adult tachinid fly females already had laid eggs close to the caterpillar's bodies. These fly larvae finally penetrated into the caterpillar's bodies, at first fed on their internal organs and finally digested these completely. The caterpillars were killed that way, and the fly larvae hatched after a while. It's always important to be mentioned that all these kinds of special life strategies are a result of evolution. If two species of organisms interact with each other it might have even been a result of coevolution.
It's also important to understand that's always interesting to ask: How did this character evolve step by step? Which selection pressures supported and enabled those character modifications? These questions are the matter, evolution biologists need to think about...

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