Skip to main content

NC State Extension

Hyperparasitoids

  • Common Name: Cotesia Hyperparasitoid
  • General Category: Parasitoid
  • Taxonomic Classification: Hymenoptera: Pteromailidae
  • Scientific Name: Hypopteromalus tabacum

Description

Hyperparasitoids are parasites of parasites. That is, they specialize in parasitizing insects that themselves are parasitic on other insects. Hypopteromalus tabacum is a native hyperparasitoid that attacks Cotesia congregata cocoons after they have emerged from hornworm caterpillars. These wasps will parasitize Cotesia pupae inside cocoons, after the Cotesia have finished feeding inside their hornworm hosts. Because of this, they are usually considered detrimental to biological control. In commercial parasitoid rearing operations, hyperparasitoids are carefully removed before large-scale rearing operations are begun. Quarantine facilities are used to screen out hyperparasitoids when a promising new parasitoid is imported for use in an importation biological control program.

Hypopteromalus adult Hypopteromalus and Cotesia adults

Identification

Review the images for tips on how to identify these predators.

Adults

These wasps are shorter and stockier, and have shorter legs and antennae than Cotesia wasps. They also have metallic or iridescent coloration.

Larvae

Because the grub-like larvae parasitize Cotesia wasp larvae inside cocoons, they would not be seen unless carefully dissected out. Cotesia wasps usually chew holes in the cocoon tips to emerge after they have completed their development. Hypopteromalus will chew emergence holes on the sides of cocoons.

Value in Pest Management

Because Hypopteromalus wasps parasitize beneficial parasitoid wasps, they are considered detrimental to pest management.

Origin and Distribution

Native in southern and southwestern United States.

Discover Life – Hypopteromalus

For More Information