Parasitic Wasps Eat Garden Pests

Parasitic Wasps Eat Garden Pests

By Josie Borlongan, Garden Guides Contributor

About Parasitic Wasps

Parasitic wasps are large, artificial assemblage of Hymenoptera superfamilies. Many parasitic wasps are considered beneficial rather than pests in the garden, especially those from the family Braconidae that are parasites found in garden pests. Among the garden pests they infest are cutworms, corn earworm, white grubs and various caterpillars.

The adult parasitic wasps range in size from 1/8 to 1 1/2 inch with long antennae, legs, and long, slender bodies with narrow waists. The egg-laying females have long tail-like egg-laying tubes called ovipositors that resemble a long stinger. Colors vary from black to yellowish.

Many species of parasitic wasps lay their eggs in the larvae, pupae or eggs of other insects. The larvae develop inside the host insect, which is killed when the parasite is ready to pupate. Some wasps have long egg-laying organs to enable them to reach concealed insects.

Prevention and Control

Protect fruits by placing bags made of muslin or pantyhose over the clusters of fruits well before damage is likely to begin. Harvest ripening fruit promptly, and clean up fallen fruits.

Affected Plants

Apples
Grapes
Figs
Pears
Plums

Damage

Very seldom do parasitic wasps cause damage to plants. They have been seen in eating fruit flesh which has already been invaded by garden pests such as caterpillars.

Predator Insects

Spiders

Natural Insecticides

Not necessary since parasitic wasps are more beneficial than pests.

Other Methods of Control

As much as possible, you would want to attract rather than control parasitic wasps since they are parasitoids that have offer benefits for gardeners. Parasitic wasps are seldom a persistent problem, and special controls are usually not necessary.

Occasionally, parasitic wasps will make their way indoors either by flying or crawling in, or by being carried in with firewood. Wasps that may have been living inside the firewood may emerge as the wood is warmed by the heat of the house. You can easily get rid of them by vacuuming them up or swatting them.

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