IMPORTANCE IN AGRICULTURE:With increasing hazards due to chemical, synthetic pesticides the only answer to mitigate these ill effects is use of safe alternatives. Amongst them use of natural enemies comprising of parasitoids, predators, entomopathogens etc. as biological control agents is the most effective environmentally sound and cost effective pest management approach to control insect pests. It is anticipated that biological control will play an increasingly important role in integrated pest management programs as broadspectrum pesticide use continues to decline.
The Importance of Parasitoid Wasps:There are many species of parasitoid wasps but most are so tiny that they are rarely noticed. What they lack in size they make up in sheer numbers and efficiency and as a group they may be the single most important biological control method gardeners have. Wasps belong to the order Hymenoptera which includes more parasitoids than any other order of insects with thousands of parasitic species in over 40 families. Parasitoid wasps are very diverse in appearance ranging in size from as small as a fleck of pepper up to nearly 3 inch long and from uniformly dark in color to brightly colored and patterned.
These tiny agents of death may be ectoparasitoids or endoparasitoids but the good news is, they do not sting people.Important species in Maryland: The most numerous and important species of parasitoid wasps in this area are in two superfamilies, Chalcidoidea (Chalcids) and Ichneumonoidea (Ichneumonoids). Among the more important Chalcid wasps are species in the Aphelinidae (Aphelinids), Chalcididae (Chalcidids), Encyrtidae (Encyrtids) and Trichogrammatidae (Trichogramma) families. The more important Ichneumonoid wasps are species in one of two families Braconidae (Braconids)and Ichneumonidae (Ichneumons) wasps.