Send us your parasitoids

Did you have parasitoids emerge from your caterpillar? They are probably flies, or wasps!

We’d like to sequence their DNA and start building up a library of host records so that we can match the parasitoid species to the caterpillar species it infects.

Step 1: Put your whole caterpillar home in the freezer. This will humanely kill the parasitoids.

Step 2: Send us an email info@thecaterpillarconundrum.org or give us a call on (08) 8313 8246 to let us know you have some parasitoids! We’ll send out some specimen tubes with preserving fluid in them, and a reply paid envelope for you to send the specimens back to us.

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Step 3: When you are ready to send them in, take your caterpillar home out the freezer and transfer the dead parasitoids to the tube labelled ‘parasitoids’ that we will send you, and the dead caterpillar to the other tube. Transfer the dead insects gently with a paintbrush or scrap of paper, trying not to crush them.

Don’t take your caterpillar jar out the freezer until you have the specimen tubes, as multiple freeze-thaw cycles damages the DNA of the insects.

Step 4: Post the tubes back to us using the reply paid envelope.  Include, written down on the data sheet provided, the link to your BowerBird sighting that matches the caterpillar, so that we can look at your photos and see the location the caterpillar is from. We’ll also ask you to write down the date that the parasitoids emerged.

Step 5: Be excited that you just contributed important data to the project! We’ll sequence the DNA of the samples you sent in to work out what they are, and add it to the growing database of caterpillar-parasitoid interactions. You can keep track of our progress on the blog!