Parasitic Wasps : Chalcid wasps

categories: Natural Enemies Parasitic Wasps

revision date: 2022-10-26 04:54

Parasitic Chalcid wasp close-up.
Parasitic Chalcid wasp (Chalcididae)
Photo by: D.G. James


Chalcids are very small (1/50 to 1/16 inch) dark-colored parasitic wasps, often metallic blue or green with complex sculpturing on the body. There are hundreds of species in the Pacific Northwest mostly attacking the eggs and larval stages of moths, flies, grasshoppers, beetles and other wasps.

Prey or Pest Targeted

  • Aphids, mealybugs, caterpillars, true bugs, beetles, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, spiders, whiteflies, insect eggs

Attracting and Keeping Natural Enemies and Pollinators in Your Yard and Garden

  • Avoid regular use of synthetic, broad-spectrum pesticides. Infrequent use of certain narrow-spectrum pesticides is more compatible with some beneficials but generally the less chemical inputs there are, the greater and more diverse the beneficial insect community will be. Extensive lawns are also not conducive to attracting and retaining a diversity of beneficial insects, mites and spiders. Minimize lawn areas and maximize shrub and bush plantings. Many beneficials reside naturally in riparian and other ‘natural’ areas near to many back yards. Natural dispersion from these refuges ensures that some beneficials will visit back yards but they will not stay unless food, host and shelter resources are available. Native plants have closer affinities with native insects and therefore provide most of these resources. A garden with a good diversity of local native flora in and around back yards, will improve the abundance and diversity of local, beneficial arthropods. Native flora also provides natural overwintering sites for many beneficial insects and it is useful to leave at least a small area of native vegetation undisturbed during fall and winter.
  • Some kinds of beneficial insects (e.g. lady beetles, lacewings, predatory mites) are available for purchase from commercial suppliers. However, benefits from introducing these beneficials are usually limited and short-lived. Upon release, commercially obtained lady beetles and lacewings often disperse and may rapidly leave your backyard despite the presence of prey and suitable nectar resources. Generally, it is more effective and sustainable to create a garden habitat that will be colonized by beneficials naturally.