Delicate (Parasitoid wasp)

parasitoid wasp

A slight parasitoid wasp.

This small, delicate creature is the bane of likely another specific type of insect’s life. That stinger on the end isn’t a stinger at all, but an ovipositor used to lay eggs strategically on or near a host, or somewhere they will be transported to a host. Parasitoid wasps come in many different varieties and while moth and fly larvae (i.e. caterpillars and maggots) seem like the most popular victims in the ones I’ve learned about, I wouldn’t be surprised if their hosts ran the gamut of insect life. Many of the parasitoids I’ve read about are known to have only a few or even a single species of host

Now I thought it would be nice to make the distinction between “parasite” and “parasitoid.” The former term is probably a much more widely familiar and carries a certain lay definition that most understand. When trying to find more technical definitions to differentiate the two, I got a little more than I bargained for. The interactions and relationships of different creatures (also not a technical term!) is pretty complex and catch-all descriptions are kind of eschewed here and there. My shorthand if not completely satisfactory answer is, both gain benefit at the expense of a host, but a parasitoid usually ends up killing a host whereas a parasite does not.

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3 thoughts on “Delicate (Parasitoid wasp)

  1. Your short answer works for me. Now if I can just remember it the next time the question of the difference between the two comes up in a conversation.

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