Other Common Names
"Parasitic wasps" (technically a misnomer - see notes under Life Cycle)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Artificial grouping; traditionally includes all the taxa other than those included in "Symphyta" and Aculeata. Tree of Life
and some other taxonomies group the Parasitica and Aculeata under "Apocrita".
Wasps in the informal group Parasitica share in common the general life cycle characteristic known as parasitoidism. A parasitoid is an organism that kills its host after having fed on it. As a group, the Parasitica run the gamut of a remarkable diversity of life cycle characteristics. The idiobionts develop relatively quickly, usually killing the hosts at a relatively earlier stage of host development than the koinobionts. Koinobiont parasitoids undergo a quiescent period during the egg or larval stage, allowing the host to develop to a later (and usually larger) stage of development before killing it. Ectoparasitoid adult females deposit the egg or eggs outside the body of the host, while endoparasitoid females inject the egg or eggs into the host's body. Most endoparasitoids are also koinobionts - koinobiont endoparasitoids. Most ectoparasitoids are also idiobionts - idiobiont ectoparasitoids.
Egg-larval parasitoids are those in which the female parasitoid deposits her egg in the egg stage of the host, and the parasitoid completes its larval development in the host larva, killing it at that stage. In larval parasitoids, the egg is deposited on, near, or in the host larva, and completes its development there, killing the host larva. There also may be egg-pupal, larval-pupal, and pupal parasitoids.
Some parasitoids lay only one egg per host (solitary parasitoids) while others lay several eggs per host (gregarious parasitoids). In polyembryonic parasitoids one egg develops into many parasitoid larvae. Hyperparasitoids are those that attack another parasitoid developing in the primary host. Superparasitism is when two parasitoid larvae of the same species parasitize the same host. Multiparasitism occurs when parasitoids of more than 1 species develop in the same host; of course there may also be competition to the death in both of these cases.
And then there are parasitoid wasps that attack adult insects and spiders. The fun never ends.
Two recently described species of purported barklouse parasites represent another superfamily (Mymarommatoidea) not formally recorded before in NA(1)
NB: There are parasitoid wasps in all major lineages of Aculeata, incl. the entire Chrysidoidea
and many families of Vespoidea
Some parasitoid wasp cocoons are scattered on hosts' pages throughout the guide and grouped together here
in Chris' Blog -- a simple guide
in Catalan -- excellently illustrated specimens