<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

The shift from ectoparasitism to endoparasitism has greatly diversified developmental strategies among parasitoid wasps as novel traits evolved in response to offspring developing inside the host (Pennacchio and Strand, 2006). In order to evade the host’s immunity reaction of encapsulation, some species release “hidden-self” recognition molecules so that the parasitoid egg or larva avoids recognition and attack from host hemocytes (Schmidt and Strand, 2001). Other species have evolved mechanisms of inhibiting or destroying the host’s cellular immunity system (Strand and Pech, 1995). Endoparasitoid wasps regulate the host’s physiology either by targeting hormones or the hemolymph protein content of the parasitized host (Bae and Kim, 2004). These parasitoids produce and release active factors in the host hemocoel that may be synthesized by the female parasitoid in venom glands and injected along with the parasitoid egg during oviposition, or they may be released by the offspring during the course of development (Mabiala-Moundoungou et al., 2010). Many species of the ichneumonid and braconid families use symbiotic polydnaviruses (PDVs) to infect the host tissues and control the host’s physiology with the acquired virus (Schmidt et al., 2001).


Hymenopteran insects show an immense range of biological diversity and employ various strategies to escape or overcome their host’s immunity defenses and regulate their host’s physiology to foster the success of their own development. The presence of parasitoid wasp diversity can be better understood by tracing the evolution of the parasitoid lifestyle and discussing the ecological constraints on parasitoid development. In addition, analyzing of the different mechanisms of wasp parasitism sheds light on the evolution of biological diversity in this group of insects. Although a great amount of research has been done on wasp venom and related symbiotic polydnaviruses used to infect host tissues, these re remains plenty of room for research on these secretions. Parasitoid wasps produce a wide range of venoms that could serve as models for developing synthetic chemical insecticides and effectively reduce the spread of human diseases via insect vectors. Parasitoid wasps are a diverse and fascinating group of insects that continue to have a significant global impact.

Discussion questions:

  1. What factors select for the evolution of a parasitoid lifestyle?
  2. Why would an ectoparasitoid lifestyle evolve before an endoparasitoid lifestyle?
  3. What are the advantages of having a parasitoid lifestyle over a predatory lifestyle?
  4. What are the dangers of having a parasitoid lifestyle?
  5. What defense mechanisms can hosts utilize to escape parasitism?


  • Angiosperms - A plant that produces flowers.
  • Apocrita - A suborder of insects in the order Hymenoptera that includes wasps, bees and ants.
  • Ectoparasitoid - A parasitoid that develops on the outside of the host’s body.
  • Endoparasitoid - A parasitoid that develops inside the host’s body.
  • Hemocytes - A cell that plays a role in the immune system of invertebrates; phagocytes found within the hemolymph of invertebrates.
  • Hemolymph - The liquid that fills the interior of the body and surrounds all cells in arthropods; analogous to the fluids and cells that comprise blood in higher animals.
  • Holometabolous - A term applied to insect groups that exhibit complete metamorphism in which the insect undergoes a series of physical changes during development; includes four life stages – an embryo, a larva, a pupa, and an adult.
  • Hymenoptera - one of the largest orders of insects; comprised of sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants
  • Idiobiont - A parasitoid whose host ceases to develop after parasitism.
  • Koinobionts - A parasitoid whose host continues to develop as the parasitoid’s offspring matures.
  • Larval stage - A distinct juvenile stage in an insect’s life that occurs before it undergoes metamorphosis into an adult.
  • Morphology - Descriptive structures used to identify an insect.
  • Parasitism - A type of relationship between different organisms wherein on organism benefits at the expense of the host.
  • Parasitoid - An organism that lives internally or externally on its host and ultimately kills its host.
  • Phylogeny - A tool that shows the evolutionary relatedness among various organisms.
  • Polydnavirus - A type of insect virus that is secreted with venom at the time of oviposition and aids in immune suppression of the host.
  • Wasp - Any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor ant.


  • Abrams PA, Rowe L. 1996. The effects of predation on the age and size of maturity of prey. Evolution. 50:1052-61.
  • Asgari S, Theopold U, Welby C, Schmidt O. 1998. A protein with protective properties against the cellular defense reactions in insects. Developmental Biology. 95:3690-3695.
  • Askew RR, Shaw MR. 1986. Parasitoid communities: their size, structure and development. See Ref. 155, pp. 225-63.
  • Bae S, Kim Y. 2004. Host physiological changes due to parasitism of a braconid wasp. Cotesia plutellae, on diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A. 138: 39-44.
  • Beckage NE, Gelman DB. 2004. Wasp parasitoid disruption of host development: implications for new biologically based strategies for insect control. Annual Review of Entomology. 49:299-330.
  • Beckage NE, Kanost MR. 1993. Effects of parasitism by the braconid wasp Cotesia congregate on host hemolymph proteins of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 23:643-653.
  • Bigot Y, Drezen JM, Sizaret PY, Rabouille A, Hamelin MH, et al. 1995. The genome segments of DpRv, a commensal reovirus of the wasp Diadromus pulchellus (Hymenoptera). Virology. 210:109-19.
  • Blackburn TM. 1991. A comparative examination of life-span and fecundity in parasitoid Hymenoptera. Journal of Animal Ecology. 60:151-64.
  • Blum MS. 1978. Biochemical defenses of insects. In: Rockstein M. Biochemistry of insects. London: Academic Press. pp. 465-513.
  • Bosch R, Messenger PS, and Gutierrez AP. 1982. An Introduction to Biological Control. Plenum Press, New York and London.
  • Brodeur J, Boivin G. 2004. Functional ecology of immature parasitoids. Annual Review of Entomology. 49:27-49.
  • Brooks DR, McLennan DA. 1993. Parascript: Parasites and the Language of Evolution. Washington, DC: Smithson. Inst.
  • Clausen CP. 1976. Phoresy among the entomophagous insects. Annual Review of Entomology. 21:343-68.
  • Cook JM, Rasplus JY. 2003. Mutualists with attitude: coevolving fig wasps and figs. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 18:241-248
  • Consoli FL, Brandt SL, Coudron TA, Vinson SB. 2005. Host regulation and release of parasitism-specific proteins in the system Toxoneuron nigriceps-Helitohis virescens. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. 142: 181-191.
  • Danneels EL, Rivers DB, de Graaf DC. 2010. Venom Porteins of the Parasitoid Wasp Nasonia vitripennis: Recent Discovery of an Untapped Pharmacopee. Toxins. 2: 494-516.
  • Dani MP, Richards EH, Edwards JP. 2004. Venom from the pupal endoparasitoid, Pimpla hypochondriaca, increases the susceptibility of larval Laconobia oleracea to the entomopathogens Bacillus cereus and Beauveria bassiana. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 86:19-25.
  • De Lima PR, Brochetto-Braga MR. 2003. Hymenoptera venom review focusing on Apis mellifera. Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases. 9:149-62.
  • Donnell DM. 2004. Vitellogenin of the parasitoid wasp, Encarsia Formosa (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae): gene organization and differential use by members of the genus. Insect Biochemical and Molecular Biology. 34:951-61.
  • Doury G, Bigot Y, Periquet G. 1997. Physiological and biochemical analysis of factors in the female venom gland and larval salivary secretions of the ectoparasitoid wap Eupelmus orientalis. Journal of Insect Physiology. 43:69-81.
  • Dowton M, Austin AD. 2001. Simultaneous analysis of 16S, 28S, CO1 and morphology in the Hymenoptera: Apocrita-evolutionary transitions among parasitic wasps. Biologic Journal of the Linnean Society. 74:87-111.
  • Dupas S, Brehelin M, Frey F, Carton Y. 1996. Immune suppressive virus-like particles in a Drosophila parasitoid: significance of their intraspecific morphological variations. Parasitology. 113:207-12.
  • Gauld ID. 1988. Evolutionary patterns of host utilization by ichneumonid parasitoids. Biological Journal of Linnean Society. 35:351-77.
  • Gauld I and B Bolton. 1988. The Hymenoptera. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.

    *This was an extremely helpful book that provides an overview of Hymenoptera and descriptions of Hymenopteran families.

  • Heimpel GE, Collier TR. 1996. The evolution of host-feeding behavior in insect parasitoids. Biological Reviews 71:373-400.
  • Knop-Wright MM, Coudron TA, Brandt SL. 2001. Ecological and physiological relevanc e of biochemical changes in a host as a result of parasitism by Euplectrus spp: a case study. See Ref. 47, pp. 153-75.
  • Lawrence PO, Akin DB. 1990. Virus-like particles from the poison glands of the parasitic wasp Biosteres longicaudatus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology. 68:539-46.
  • Luo L and Zeng L. 2010. A new rod-shaped virus from parasitic wasp Diachasmimorpha longicaudata (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Journal of Invertebrate Patholology. 102: 165-169.

    *A new and interesting paper on Virus-Like Particles in parasitoid wasps

  • Mabiala-Moundoungou AD, Doury G, Eslin P, Cherqui A, Prevost G. 2010. Deadly venom of Asobara japonica parasitoid needs ovarian antidote to regulate host physiology. Journal of Insect Physiology. 56:35-41.

    *A very interesting paper that provides new and interesting information about parasitoid venom

  • Machado CA, Jousselin E, Kjellberg F, Compton SG, Herre EA. 2001. Phylogenetic relationships, historical biogeography and character evolution of fig-pollinating wasps. Proceeding of the Royal Society B. 268:685-94.
  • Mayhew PJ. Blackburn TM. 1999. Does development mode organize life-history traits in the parasitoid Hymenoptera? Journal of Animal Ecology. 68:906-19.
  • Pennacchio F, Strand MR. 2006. Evolution of Developmental Strategies in Parasitic Hymenoptera. Annual Review of Entomology. 51:233-258.
  • Price PW. 1980. Evolutionary Biology of Parasites. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Read DP, Feeny PP and Root RB. 1970. Habitat selection by the aphid parasite Diaeretiella rapae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and hyperparasite Charips brassicae (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae). Canadian Entomologist. 102: 1567-1578.
  • Rivers DB. 2004. Evaluation of host responses as means to assess ectoparasitic pteromalid wasp’s potential for controlling manure-breeding flies. Biologic Control. 30:181-192.
  • Rivers DB, Denlinger DL. 1994. Redirection of metabolism in the flesh fly, Sarcophaga bullata, following envenomation by the ectoparasitoid, Nasonia vitripennis, and correlation of metabolic effects with the diapauses status of the host. Journal of Insect Physiology. 40: 207-15.
  • Rivers, DB, Ruggiero, L, Hayes, M. 2002. The ectoparasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis (Walker) (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) differentially affects cells mediating the immune response of its flesh fly host, Sarcophaga bullata Parker (Diptera: Sarcophagidae). Journal of Insect Physiology. 48: 1053-1064.
  • Rosenberg LA, Glusman JG, Libersat F. 2007. Octopamine partially restores walking in hypokinestic cockroaches stung by the parasitoid wasp Ampulex compressa. Journal of Experimental Biology. 210:4411-4417.
  • Salt G. 1958. Parasite behavior and the control of insect pests. Endeavour. 17:145-148.
  • Schmidt O, Theopold U, Strand M. 2001. Innate immunity and its evasion and suppression by hymenopteran endoparasitoids. Bioessays. 23:344-51.
  • Shaw M. 1994. Parasitoid host ranges. In Parasitoid Community Ecology, ed. BA Hawkins, W Sheehan, pp. 111-14. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Stouthamer R, Breeuwer JAJ, Hurst GDD. 1999. Wolbachia pipientis: microbial manipulator of arthropod reproduction. Annual Review of Microbiology. 53:71-102.
  • Strand MR. 2000. Life history variation and developmental constraints in parasitoids. In Population Biology of Parasitoids, ed. M Hochberg, AR Ives, pp. 139-62. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Strand MR. 2002. The interactions between larval parasitoids and their hosts. In Behavioral Ecology of Parasites, ed. M Sukdeo, J Campbell, E Lewis, pp. 129-52. London:CBA.
  • Strand MR, Pech LL. 1995. Immunological compatibility in parasitoid-host relationships. Annual Review of Entomology. 40:31-56.
  • Vinson SB. 1975. Biochemical coevolution between parasitoids and their hosts. Evolutionary Strategies of Parasitic Insects and Mites. 14-48.
  • Vinson SB, Iwantsch GF. 1980. Host regulation by insect parasitoids. Quarterly Review of Biology. 55:143-65.
  • Waage JK, Godfray HCJ. 1985. Reproductive strategies and population ecology of insect parasitoids. Behavioural Ecology: Ecological Consequences of Adaptive Behavior. pp. 449-70.
  • Weisel-Eichler A, Haspel G, Libersat F. 1999. Venom of a parasitoid wasp induces prolonged grooming in the cockroach. Journal of Experimental Biology. 202:957-64.
  • Wharton RA. 1993. Bionomics of the Braconidae. Annual Review of Entomology. 38:121-43.
  • Whitfield JB. 1998. Phylogeny and evolution of host-parasitoid interactions in Hymenoptera. Annual Review of Entomology. 43:129–51.
  • Whitfield JB. 2002. Estimating the age of the polydnavirus/braconid wasp symbiosis. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 99:7508-13.
  • Whitfield JB, Asgari S. 2003. Virus or not? Phylogenetics of polydnaviruses and their wasp carriers. Journal of Insect Physiology. 49:391-405
  • Quicke DLJ. 1997. Parasitic Wasps. London: Chapman&Hall.

    *This book is a good introduction to parasitoid lifestyle and should be reviewed before exploring the more complicated aspects of parasitism.

  • Yu DW. 2001. Parasites of mutualisms. Biological Journal of Linnean Society in London. 72:529-546.
  • Zchori-Fein E, Perlman SJ, Kelly SE, Katzir N, Hunter MS. 2004. Characterization of a ‘Bacteroidetes’ symbiont in Encarsia wasps (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae): proposal of Çandidatus Cardinium hertigii.’ International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 54:961-68.

About the author

Jennifer Tina Pan is a graduating senior at Rice University currently living in Oak Park, California. Originally born in Houston, TX, Jennifer’s family moved to California when she was four years old. A rambunctious and energetic child, Jennifer began playing various sports at the age of five and eventually focused on tennis at the age of ten. Among her friends, Jennifer was called “Panda Express” for being the token Asian girl on the team. Their team made it to the state championships two years in a row, and Jennifer went on to play Varsity tennis her freshman year at Rice University.

Jennifer enjoys sampling foreign cuisine and baking in her spare time. An avid fan of Food Network, she recently made chocolate soufflé for twelve friends and is embarking on a quest to make crème brûlée so that her set of ceramic soufflé dishes are put to good use. In addition to sweets, Jennifer has a weakness for sushi and has been to nine different sushi restaurants while living in Houston for the past four years. Her younger sister, Rachel, is also an active sushi connoisseur and the sisters are known to frequent their favorite hometown sushi restaurant, Sushi Gen, multiple times each week. Although she also grew up playing tennis, Rachel discovered a passion for pole vaulting in her freshman year of high school and plans to pole vault for UCI after graduating from Oak Park High School. An important year of transition for both, Jennifer and Rachel plan to finally take a summer vacation together after graduating from their respective places of learning.

Jennifer’s multiple sports-related injuries led her to become interested in Sports Medicine in her sophomore year of college. In addition to majoring in Kinesiology, Jennifer continued to pursue her interest in ecology by taking various biology classes and labs. To this day, Jennifer cites Plant Diversity with Tom Miller as her favorite class at Rice University. She is thankful for the wealth of information she gained from her professors while at Rice, and is excited for the next step in her career.

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get Jobilize Job Search Mobile App in your pocket Now!

Get it on Google Play Download on the App Store Now

Source:  OpenStax, Mockingbird tales: readings in animal behavior. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11211/1.5
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Mockingbird tales: readings in animal behavior' conversation and receive update notifications?