Insect Movies

Below you can watch some of the movies I made. The corresponding description is above each video.  You can also visit my Vimeo site

Below you can see how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. English spoken

Below you can see a video about research of Wageningen University, showing the effect of strip cropping on the abundance of parasitic wasps. The video is Dutch spoken, you can choose English or Dutch subtitles

Below you can see  the tiny wasp species Anagyrus pseudococci parasitizing a mealy bug. The fragile ovipositor is nicely visible as it is inserted in the mealybug.

The video below shows oviposition behavior of the butterfly species Pieris brassicae. Whereas there is now ample attention for the need for flowers to support the declining numbers of insects, there is much less attention for the offspring of the butterflies, the caterpillars. Nectar is of course very important to support the survival of butterflies, but ultimately the female butterfly has to find a suitable host plant on which she can lay her eggs. This host plant is not necessarily a plant with abundant beautiful flowers, but it will support the growth of the caterpillars. In this video, you can see for example how the large cabbage white butterfly (Pieris brassicae) carefully lays her eggs, and glues them, one by one, underneath a leaf of a black mustard plant. There is an interval of about 30-60 seconds between each egg, and the butterfly lays several tens of eggs into a neat cluster. Needless to say that it is important for butterfly conservation to support host plants as much as nectar plants! The video is available in 4k resolution.

Below you can see the Asian Tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, or Stegomyia albopicta feeding on my hand. You can see how she regularly expels droplets excess liquid from her abdomen. At the end of blood feeding she retracts the proboscis. This movie was recorded at the quarantine rearing facility at Wageningen University

In the movie below, you can see the larval endoparasitoid wasp Cotesia glomerata attacks the caterpillars of the Large white butterfly, Pieris brassicae. She inserts her ovipositor in the body of the caterpillars and quickly lays some 20-30 eggs.The caterpillars spit and bite the wasp to defend themselves, but many will have the parasitoid’s eggs inside, which will soon develop into larvae. Both the caterpillars and the parasitoid larvae continue to grow untill both are fully developed. You can see the maggot like larvae in a part of the movie where the skin of the caterpillar has been made transparent. Just before the caterpillar would normally molt into a pupa, the parasitoid larvae eat themselves through the skin and start spinning a cocoon in which they will continue their development to pupa and adult wasp. The caterpillar still lives, but its behaviour is manipulated. It will protect the parasitoid wasps from attackers, such as hyperparasitoids, and spins a protective layer of silk over the cluster of cocoons. After some days it will die because its energy reserves have been fully exploited by the developing parasitoid larva. Then the adult wasps emerge from their cocoons to mate and start a new cycle.

This movie shows a time lapse of a caterpillar, Spodoptera exigua, the Beet armyworm. The virus has manipulated the caterpillar, which shows the so-called tree top disease: it migrates to the top of a plant on which it is feeding. There, the virus will liquify the body of the caterpillar, thereby increasing the spread of the virus particles to infect new caterpillars. This video was produced to support a review publication: Gasque, S. N., van Oers, M. M., & Ros, V. I. D. (2019). Where the baculoviruses lead, the caterpillars follow: baculovirus-induced alterations in caterpillar behaviour. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 33, 30–36.

This female mosquito landed on my leg on a summer evening. I took it upstairs to my photo studio and led it continue feeding on my hand while recording a video that you see below 

Below you can see the predatory bug Podisus maculiventrus attacks the caterpillar Manduca sexta (tobacco hornworm). Long version available in 4k video. You see how the bug very carefully approaches the caterpillar, since it has to attach its mouthparts firmly into the body before it escapes. The first attack fails, and the caterpillar escapes, but the second attach is successfull.

Below you can see a very tiny egg  parasitic wasp. Be patient, egg parasitoids are not very fast. You are watching an insect smaller than a millimeter, the parasitoid wasp Trissolcus basalis, the green vegetable bug parasitoid. It is parasitizing the eggs of, as its name already says, the green vegetable bug Nezara viridula

In the movie below, the parasitoid wasp Hyposoter ebeninus attacks the caterpillars of the large cabbage white butterfly, Pieris brassicae and inserts her ovipositor to lay one egg into the caterpillar. The caterpillars bite and spit to defend themselves, so the wasp has to be careful and avoid being bitten since that will temporarily paralyse her… You can see her even flying away to avoid the caterpillar’s defense behaviour. The parasitized caterpillar will continue to develop, but inside its body the larva of the wasp will grow as well. Finally the caterpillar will die and a new wasp will emerge.

Below you see the parasitoid wasp Cotesia rubecula attacking the caterpillars of the small cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae. She inserts her ovipositor into the caterpillar and quickly lays one egg inside. The caterpillar will continue its development but the larva of the wasp inside will grow as well, and finally emerges and spins a cocoon. The caterpillar will die.

The caterpillar below has fully grown and is now ready to molt into a pupa to start its metamorphosis into an adult large cabbage white butterfly. However, it was parasitized as a young larva, just after emergence from its egg, by the parasitic wasps Cotesia glomerata. This wasp has laid some 25 eggs inside the caterpillar. During the growth of the caterpillar, the larvae of the wasp have also fully grown and now want to escape from their host. The caterpillar, on its way to a safe place to molt into a pupa, is temporarily paralized because its behavior is under control of the larva of the wasp. Then, all larvae eat their way out of the caterpillar’s body in a synchronized way. They spin a cocoon and then molt into a pupa to develop into adult wasps. They escape from the caterpillar without spilling any hemolymph (insect blood). At the end of the movie, you can see that one wasp larvae leaves the caterpillar much later, and this one spills some hemolymph, but this is an exception. The caterpillar is still alive after this gruesome event, and its paralysis ends. Its behavior is still hijacked by the wasp larvae, and it will spin a protective layer of silk over the cocoons of its “progeny”. It even attacks any insect that attacks the cocoons, such as hyperparasitic wasps. After a few days, however, it will die.

Film showing the relation between a the primary parasitic wasp Cotesia glomerata, it’s host Pieris brassicae (large cabbage white butterfly) and the hyperparasitic wasp Baryscapus galactopus.

The ectoparasitoid wasp species Eulophus pennicornis Nees is shown below. She lays her eggs on the body of a caterpillar, where they develop into larva that such the hemolymph (blood) of the caterpillar host. When the wasp’s larva are fully developed, they move away from the now dead caterpillar, molrt into a pupa, and after a week they molt into adult wasps.