Parasitic wasps

What are parasitic wasps?

Parasitic wasps are small insects that play a crucial role in natural pest control. They are called "parasitic" because they lay their eggs inside or on harmful pest insects. These parasitic wasp larvae then develop inside the host insect, eventually killing it.

These wasps are highly specialized, with different species targeting specific pests. They are effective in reducing the population of harmful insects, making them valuable allies in horticulture and agriculture. Unlike chemical pesticides, parasitic wasps are natural and do not harm beneficial insects, animals, or the environment.

Parasitic wasps for pest control

Parasitic wasps target a variety of pests that are common concerns in commercial horticulture and agriculture. Here are some of the key pests controlled by parasitic wasps:

Benefits of parasitic wasps

Using parasitic wasps for pest control offers a range of benefits:

  1. Enhanced crop protection: Parasitic wasps are highly efficient at targeting specific pest insects. By introducing these beneficial insects, growers can significantly reduce the damage caused by pests, ensuring a higher yield and product quality.
  2. Environmental sustainability: Parasitic wasps provide a natural and environmentally responsible solution to pest management. This approach minimizes the environmental impact associated with chemical pesticides and promotes a more sustainable agricultural model.
  3. Cost-effective pest management: By incorporating parasitic wasps into integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, growers can reduce their reliance on costly chemical pesticides.
  4. Consistency and long-term effectiveness: Parasitic wasps, once established, offer consistent and long-term pest control. These beneficial insects persistently hunt down and parasitize pest species, providing ongoing protection for crops throughout the growing season.
  5. Biodiversity and ecosystem balance: The introduction of parasitic wasps into commercial growing environments can promote biodiversity, as the use of harmful chemicals decreases. This, in turn, creates a more balanced ecosystem in the crop, which can enhance overall crop health and resilience. A diverse ecosystem often means fewer imbalances and outbreaks of specific pest species.

How do parasitic wasps control pests?

Parasitic wasps employ two primary methods to control pests: parasitization and host feeding.


Parasitization is the primary means by which parasitic wasps control pests in agriculture. This process involves the parasitic wasp laying its eggs inside or on a host pest. Here's how it works:

  • Egg laying: A female parasitic wasp seeks out a suitable host pest. The choice of host depends on the specific species of parasitic wasp, as they often exhibit host specificity. The female parasitic wasp carefully inserts its eggs either inside the host's body or attaches them to the host's exterior.
  • Larval development: When the parasitic wasp eggs hatch, the newly emerged larvae begin to feed on the host pest. They consume the host from the inside, which ultimately leads to the death of the host.
  • Pupal stage: After the larvae have consumed the host, they pupate, forming a cocoon or pupal stage within or on the host's body.
  • Emergence: Once the parasitic wasp reaches maturity, it emerges from the host's body or the cocoon. The host pest is typically killed in the process.

Host feeding

In addition to parasitization, some parasitic wasps also engage in host feeding. This behavior involves the adult wasps feeding on the host’s body fluids, which can be important for their reproduction. It's important to note that not all species of parasitic wasps engage in host feeding, and the primary method of pest control remains parasitization.

Parasitic wasp products

With over five decades of experience and expertise, Koppert is a trusted source for growers seeking effective and reliable biological control solutions. Koppert offers various parasitic wasp solutions for the control of aphids, whiteflies, leaf miners, mealybugs, stink bugs and caterpillars.

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