Aphidius matricariae
A braconid wasp that parasitizes aphid nymphs

Photography by Max E. Badgley (1922-2006)

Aphidius matricariae adult, parasitizing an aphid nymph
Photo © Max E. Badgley, published with permission from the Max E. Badgley Estate, with special thanks to the University of California, Riverside, who kindly supplied this image from the UCR Chalcidoidea database collection.

Numerous species of wasps are included in the genus Aphidius, but all attack and control aphids. Aphidius matricariae is reared in commercial insectaries, generally for greenhouse use.

All species of Aphidius
are minute, braconid wasps whose females lay single eggs in the bodies of live aphid nymphs. The wasp larvae feed on the aphid host's tissues, eventually killing the host as they mature and, in the process, cementing the aphid carcass to the plant. The dead aphids turn black and mummify, thereupon serving as pupae for the wasp larvae. When the wasp's pupal stage is complete, adult wasps emerge from their mummy casings by cutting a hole in the aphid mummy.  The empty aphid mummy remains attached to the plant, and the exit hole used by the wasp can easily be seen under magnification.

It is a good practice to examine infestations of aphids for mummies in their midst.  Such a sight tells an observer that the aphids on that plant are under attack by natural predators and that many, if not most, of the remaining live aphids are presently parasitized and will soon die.

Badgley Photography Index

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