The Hymenoptera order comprises numerous families of parasitic wasps, generally known as parasitoids. This order also includes sawflies, bees, and wasps. From huge wasps that can be seen with the naked eye (2.5 cm or 1 inch) to tiny insects that develop within the egg of another insect, parasitic wasps span a wide range of sizes. Parasitic wasps, like all parasites, spend at least some of their lives developing inside or outside their host.
What do they eat?
Their effectiveness against particular pests is species-dependent. A wide variety of insects, including aphids, bagworms, beetle larvae, Colorado potato beetle, cabbage worms, gipsy moth caterpillars, Japanese beetles, mealybugs, leaf miners, tomato hornworms, tobacco budworms, squash vine borers, sawfly larvae, moth caterpillars, and scale insects, are consumed by the Parasitic Wasp.
Parasitic wasps — when and where may you locate them?
Adult parasitic wasps are widespread, especially in temperate regions, freshwater sources, and gardens. However, parasitic wasps supplement their diet with problem insects, including aphids, locusts, and cabbage caterpillars.
Parasitic Wasp Life cycle
The female wasp of a parasitic hive uses her antennae to sniff for a suitable victim. Her ovipositor, a stinger-like appendage on her abdomen, is used to deposit an egg into a host once she has located one. To access their hosts within a tree or plant, certain species of wasps use their ovipositors to bore holes through the bark or plant tissue. The wasp’s egg gets stretched out into a long, thin shape as it travels down the ovipositor, but once it’s within the host, it quickly recovers its original form. The mother’s viruses help the wasp egg fight the host’s immune system, among other adaptations. Larvae of wasp eggs infiltrate and feed on their hosts. Wasp larvae may provide specific tissues to prolong host life. Overfed hosts die, and the wasp larva becomes a pupa and starts its life cycle anew. After a while, a mature wasp emerges from its cocoon and searches for a mate to start over.
Parasitic wasp queens lay their eggs inside the victim insect or spider. They utilise an ovipositor to insert their eggs into the flesh of their victims. It is where the parasites’ offspring will emerge to feast on their host and end the animal’s life. Adult parasitic wasps typically only make it through the winter in milder environments, such as the garden or a body of fresh water. If a parasite has brought them into the home, they may also be found there.