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Aphid wasp being born

Aphid wasp being born
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
June 10, 2014
I found a black aphid today and decided to keep an eye on it because it had been in the same place for a long time. I took a few pictures and then a little black wasp started to hatch out. Here are a few of the pictures. Sorry for the quality but my camera doesn't do THAT tiny.

Images of this individual: tag all
Aphid wasp being born Aphid wasp being born Aphid wasp being born


Emerging wasp…
I suspect the wasp emerging from this aphid may be a hyperparasitic pteromalid. Can't see a lot of details, but the muscular thorax and long antennae seem to suggest this.

One possible scenario is that the aphid was initially parasitized by another chalcid that attacks aphids (the primary parasitoid). Sometime later, a female pteromalid may have come along and parasitized the primary parasitoid through the aphid. This is actually a fairly common occurence since many pteromalids are naturally hyperparasitic in this manner.

See reference here.

I have a question...
I have seen two tiny black wasps and one has a chunky abdomen like the one in the photo. The other has a longer abdomen. So the aphid is parasitized by one wasp and another wasp parasitizes the wasp already in the aphid? So the second wasp is the one that is born and the other wasp dies along with the aphid? If that's correct, I'm in awe of the crazy insect world. Love those little wasps. I can't kill any aphids now because I'm waiting to see if any more wasps hatch.

The wasp with ...
... the long abdomen is probably the primary parasitoid (Braconidae: Aphidiinae) that kills the aphid. The one with the chunky abdomen is a hyper, and can be a Pteromalidae or a Figitidae (Charipinae) - unfortunately I can't tell which one from these images. Other hypers are from the family Megaspilidae, but don't look like this image.

Upon second examination ...
... I think the wings of the wasp are too short to be a charipine, so this beast is most likely a pteromalid, and the two most common genera of aphid hyperparasitoids among the pteromalids are Asaphes and Pachyneuron.

Thanks for that information and for taking the time to answer my question.

It is essentially as you describe but the stage that is parasitized is the larva. So the host wasp never makes it to the adult stage but is killed and eaten by the hyperparasitoid larva before then.

Thank you...

An aphidiine (Braconidae) could probably be another host for the hyperparasitoid.

Moved from Aphid Wasps.

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