Beneficial Insect: Braconid Wasps

Inside each of the little white cocoons on this targeted hornworm is a future garden-pest eating machine.
Related To:
Braconid Wasp Pupae

Braconid Wasp Pupae

The egglike sacs clinging to the skin of this hornworm are actually pupae for the next generation of braconid wasps. The larvae that spun the cocoons hatched inside the hornworm, where they ate their way out.

The egglike sacs clinging to the skin of this hornworm are actually pupae for the next generation of braconid wasps. The larvae that spun the cocoons hatched inside the hornworm, where they ate their way out.


Braconid wasps are small winged creatures, usually less than 1/2 inch long, that play a big role in controlling pests in your yard and garden. There's a lot of diversity in the group; depending on the species, braconid wasps attack every stage of an insect's life; some feed inside a host, others outside. In one type, the adult female braconid wasp lays eggs in a likely host. The eggs hatch and the larvae then eat their way out of the insect, where they form pupae (pictured at left) and wait to hatch into adults.

The parasitized hornworm may keep right on eating your vegetables while it dies a slow death. The advantage of allowing the pupae to hatch and the hornworm to die naturally? You're helping to build the next generation of braconid wasps. Your garden will thank you.

And one more piece of good news: braconid wasps don't sting.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Beneficial Bug: The Hover Fly

Familiar garden predators like ladybugs and praying mantises often get all the credit for controlling bad bugs. Check out what this largely unsung backyard hero can do.

Beneficial Reptiles in the Garden

Find out how to encourage and work with these garden helpmates.

Gardening Q & A: Summer Snowflake Plant and More

Master gardener Paul James talks about pruning candles, cool plants, and no-hassle manure tea.

How to Garden in Just 15 Minutes a Day

No time to garden? Learn 10 easy tricks to multiply minutes in the garden.

Seeing Seeds

Late-season seeds provide yet another reason to admire plants. Master gardener Paul James discusses a few of his favorites.

Downloading the Garden

Master gardener Paul James explains the benefits of shopping online.

Spiny Elm Caterpillar

The spiny elm caterpillar is the larval stage of the mourning cloak butterfly.

All About Sunflowers

Take a new look at sunflowers, including some exciting and unexpected varieties.

Walnut Caterpillar

In some southern states, this hairy critter is a hazard to pecan, walnut and hickory trees.

Blister Beetle

Gardener's friend or foe? The answer depends on this insect's life stage.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.