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The wasps of genus Trichogramma
, commonly known as "stingless wasps", are some of the most widely-studied agents of biological control
Biological control of pests in agriculture is a method of controlling pests that relies on predation, parasitism, herbivory, or other natural mechanisms...
in the field of entomology. Trichogramma
wasps are tiny Hymenoptera
Hymenoptera is one of the largest orders of insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees and ants. There are over 130,000 recognized species, with many more remaining to be described. The name refers to the heavy wings of the insects, and is derived from the Ancient Greek ὑμήν : membrane and...
n insects, measuring 1 millimeter in length or less, that parasitize the eggs of many types of agricultural pest insects. They are easy to rear and release in fields suffering from pest outbreaks.
There are over 230 species of Trichogramma
, and most are so similar, advanced expertise is required to tell them apart. Genetic studies are ongoing. The wasps are currently used to control at least 28 species of insect pest, including the cotton bollworm
The larva of the moth Helicoverpa zea is a major agricultural pest. It can feed on many different plants during the larval stage. Accordingly, the species has been given many different common names. When the larva consumes cotton, it is known as the cotton bollworm...
, codling moth
The codling moth is a member of the Lepidopteran family Tortricidae. They are known as an agricultural pest, their larva being the common apple worm or maggot. It is native to Europe and was introduced to North America, where it has become one of the regular pests of apple orchards. It is found...
, and European corn borer
The European corn borer , also known as the European high-flyer, is a pest of grain, particularly maize. The insect is native to Europe, originally infesting varieties of millet, including broom corn. The European corn borer was first reported in North America in 1917 in Massachusetts, but was...
. Female wasps inject their own eggs into the egg of the pest, and her larvae consume the embryo and other contents of the egg.
Wolbachia is a genus of bacteria which infects arthropod species, including a high proportion of insects , as well as some nematodes. It is one of the world's most common parasitic microbes and is possibly the most common reproductive parasite in the biosphere...
for additional details.