Chalcid wasps (Chalcididae) are mainly parasitoids, meaning their larvae are parasites that eventually kill their hosts. They are found worldwide, although they are predominantly tropical.
Chalcid wasps are small, about 6 mm in length. They range in color from black, with white or yellow marks, to yellow. They are robust with enlarged hind legs, and a flat forewing.
Chalcid wasps are predominantly solitary, although a few species may be gregarious. These parasitoids most often attack pupae of moths, butterflies (Lepidoptera), and flies (Diptera), but occasionally sawflies, wasps, bees, ants (Hymenoptera), and beetles (Coleoptera). Females lay up to 200 eggs. These eggs are deposited into fully grown hosts, like mature larvae, or young pupae. Eggs pupate and feed and grow inside the host pupa. Most chalcid wasps then overwinter as adult females or as mature larvae in the host organism.
Although chalcid wasps are not known for their pollination services, studies have documented various species of chalcid wasps visiting flowers and perhaps contributing to pollination of the plants. Plants visited include acacias (Acacia spp.) by chalcid wasps in the Hockeria genus, kudzu (Pueraria montana) by Conura amoena, Sacramento burbark (Triumfetta semitriloba), and mango (Mangifera indica).
Members of the genus Dirhinus have been reared numerous times from tephritid puparia. The species of this genus burrow through the substrate to locate puparia. Oviposition is through the puparial wall onto the host pupa (Silvestri 1914). Silvestri (1914) brought Dirhinus giffardii (Silvestri) from Africa to Hawaii, where it was propagated, released, and became established on medfly, Ceratitis capitata. Later (1971), this species was introduced as a biological control agent in Bolivia against medfly (Bennett and Squire 1972).
The species of Dirhinus can be readily recognized by the fact that the antennae are inserted in a deep concavity formed by two ridges extending out from the face (Figs. 1-3). In dorsal view, these appear as two horn-like protruberances.
Species in the genus Conura are also occasionally reared from fruit-infesting tephritids, but only rarely.
For additional information, see the Dirhinus and Dirhinus giffardii pages.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:582
Specimens with Barcodes:270
Species With Barcodes:106
The Chalcididae are a moderate-sized family within the Chalcidoidea, composed mostly of parasitoids and a few hyperparasitoids. The family is apparently polyphyletic, though the different subfamilies may each be monophyletic, and some may be elevated to family status in the near future. As presently defined, there are over 85 genera and over 1455 species worldwide. They are often black with yellow, red, or white markings, rarely brilliantly metallic, with a robust mesosoma and very strong sculpturing. The hind femora are often greatly enlarged, with a row of teeth or serrations along the lower margin.
One of the more remarkable uses of the muscular hind legs is the species Lasiochalcidia igiliensis, which attacks the dangerous, predatory larvae of ant lions, holding the mandibles of the larva spread apart while the wasp carefully injects an egg into the membrane of the exposed throat.
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