Scientific Classification: Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Order Hymenoptera, family Trichogrammatidae, approx 650 Trichogramma spp.
Imagine if you were only about half a centimetre in size and had a life span of just 2 weeks. You wouldn’t have time to complain about others or to feel angry or jealous of others. The Trichogramma Wasp is just such a creature. Adults are 1/50 inch or 0.18mm in dimension, and are a beautiful golden yellow in colour, or yelow and black, with bright red eyes, short antennae and compact bodies.
These mini wasps may be small but they pack a big punch. They assist us human beings with “pest control” by laying their eggs inside the eggs of other insects. The young Trrichogramma wasps begin their deveolpment inside those eggs, thus killing the other insect larvae.
“How gross” I hear some of you say. Well, not really, because parasitism is one of the natural orders or processes of life, and can be beneficial. Parasitism is a non-mutual relationship between organisms of different species where one organism, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host.
In this case, this tiny wasp is a parasite of the eggs of hundreds of species of insects, especially moths, butterflies, and sawflies, codling moth and fruitworm. A few species parasitize eggs of beetles, flies, true bugs, other wasps, and lacewings. Several species of Trichorgramma Wasp are commercially available.
Nature can be brutal, but very effective. Trichogramma wasps are probably the most widely released beneficial insect in the southwestern United States. They are used by growers of fruit, vegetables and ornamentals to control caterpillar and worm pests on their crops.
These wasps are one of the smallest insects on the planet, the size of the dot at the end of this sentence. They are sometimes known as the “stingless wasp”. The adults require sugar as an energy source obtained from nectars, honeydew, plant sap and sugars leached through the specialised phloem cells of plants.
Entomologists ( scientists whom study insects ) in the early 1900’s began to rear Trichogramma for biological control, which is the reduction of pest populations using the natural enemies of the pests themselves. Trichogramma minutum is one of the most commonly found species in Europe.
Did you know that the recorded history of biological control may be considered as dating from Egyptian records of 4,000 years ago, where domestic cats were depicted as useful in rodent control?
See THIS page for further history on biological control please.