Insect Parasites

General Description

Larval stages of insect parasites feed on or inside the bodies of host insects, eventually killing their hosts. Most parasitic insects are wasps or flies. Parasitic wasps occur in various shapes and sizes and are commonly named according to their family name (for example, ichneumons, brachnoids, chalcids, trichogramma). Parasitized aphids (mummies) appear inflated and are often tan or black in color with hardened, shell-like appearance. Small round exit holes will appear in those from which adult wasps have emerged. Some parasitic wasp larvae may leave their hosts such as caterpillars to make small white cocoons beside the host carcass in which to pupate and later emerge as adults.


Aphids, caterpillars, scale insects, leafhoppers, lygus bugs



Life History

Life cycles and the number of generations produced per year vary according to species. Some species overwinter as larvae inside different hosts than their summer hosts.


There are no recommended techniques other than examining host colonies or individuals for signs of parasitism (e.g. aphid mummies, holes in bodies of scales, or small white cocoons on caterpillars).