Burner's picture

Strange behaviour of caterpillar

Observed: 23rd July 2009 By: Burner
DSC04268 3

Caterpillar appears to be tending group of pupae (or eggs) of unrelated insects and remained in the position photographed here without appearing to feed for more than a week. One of the photos is taken from inside the house. I did not observe the hatching but the resident told me they seemed to have been flies. Can anyone help with identification and explanation? Photos from other angles available if required.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Large White (Pieris brassicae) interacts


Burner's picture

Strange Behaviour of caterpillar

I should have added that the caterpillar was later found dead.

Jonathan's picture

Yes, it was not tending the

Yes, it was not tending the pupae but had been consumed by the larvae of this parasite from the inside.

University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

charlieb's picture

Have a look at this thread ..

Burner's picture

Thanks for fascinating

Thanks for fascinating response Charlieb and Jonathan. I only attended the scene to photograph it and never saw what transpired but we did move the caterpillar a few inches away from the coocoon and it made a beeline back to the spot, and fixed its head to the coocoon. Wonder if there is some sort of pheremone emitted by the cocoon to attract the caterpillar? - it remained in place for about a week.

Sophie Chattington's picture


I was wondering if I could please use one of your photos in a scientific review essay I am writing, about tritrophic interactions. I am describing the manipulation of behaviour of pieris caterpillars by the parasitoid wasp cotesia glomerata. The photos that you have taken are of the the cocoons of the cotesia wasp emerging from a pieris brassicae caterpillar. Anyway, if you would be ok for me to use your photo in my report, what can I reference it by, ie your surname, first initial and date the photo was taken.
Thanks a lot,