Other Cool Beneficials: Parasitic Wasps

June 19, 2017 | Other Beneficials

At BioLogic Company we focus on providing top quality beneficial nematodes for natural insect pest control, but there are many other cool biological controls out there as well. Parasitic wasps are one of the most prolific natural controls on the planet. There are many, many species of parasitic wasps that control a variety of common pests. Most parasitic wasps are very small and are usually black or brown in color. Some of those pests killed by wasps are insects which beneficial nematodes do not control, so it can make sense to use both beneficial nematodes and parasitic wasps as part of an Integrated Pest Management program.

Tobacco hornworm with parasitic wasp eggs

How They Work

In general, parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside the egg, larva or pupa of a pest insect and feed on their host. Most parasitic wasps attack a specific host, so it is important to understand which pest(s) you are targeting and to be sure you are purchasing a wasp that targets that pest insect (this is not a one size fits all approach!) It is also important to understand that it usually takes a few weeks or more to notice a significant reduction in the pest population, and using parasitic wasps is not generally an instant cure or a good solution for an out of control pest population.

What They Kill

Again, there are many, many species of parasitic wasps each with different target hosts. There are parasitic wasp species that are very effective at killing many types of flies, moths and caterpillars.

Parasitized caterpillar

Keys for Success

In order to be successful using parasitic wasps for insect pest control you need to have a good understanding of the pest(s) you are targeting and their life cycle. This will help ensure you apply the right species of wasp at the right time for effective control. You need to be sure you are releasing enough parasitic wasps to effectively control the population. Just as it is with beneficial nematodes, applying too few wasps can result in little to no control of the pest population. In some cases you may need to plan multiple releases within a single season. Also be sure to purchase your wasps from a reputable supplier. We recommend IPM Labs and Rincon-Vitova Insectaries to our customers looking for other biological controls such as parasitic wasps which we do not offer.