Last year, the focus of the Beneficial Insect of the Week was crop pests. This year, we’re changing things up and highlighting the many natural enemies that help you out, silently and efficiently killing off crop pests. [note: featured Insects of the Week in 2015 are available on the Insect of the Week page]
This week's Insect of the Week are Aphidiidae wasps*. While you won't likely see them flying about attacking aphids, this tiny wasp can parasitoidize 100-350 aphids during its relatively short lifetime. The resulting aphid 'mummy' ceases causing crop damage and instead becomes a living host for the developing wasp. After 2 to 4 weeks of development, a new adult Aphidiidae wasp emerges and starts hunting for aphids to continue the cycle. To see an Aphidius avenaphis wasp in action, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7PNlpEgvEM&feature=youtu.be.
For more information about this natural enemy, other pests they control and other important crop and forage insects, see the new Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural Enemies in Western Canada - Identification and Management Field Guide for identification, life cycle and conservation options (download links for field guide available on the Insect of the Week page).
* this wasp genus only attacks aphids, not humans.
Adult Aphidius avenaphis, © AAFC, Tyler Wist
English grain aphid mummy, cc-by-sa 2.0 Gilles San Martin