Parasitoids are fascinating insects whose adult females lay their eggs in or on other insects, and immature larvae develop by feeding on host bodies resulting in the death of the host. Two main characteristics are making these animals one of the main biological models studied in many research laboratories across the world:
- Insect parasitoids are generally easily to rear in the laboratory, and their development time is short (usually one or a few weeks). Furthermore, they can be found in nearly every terrestrial ecosystem and so present a huge biological and ecological diversity. Natural selection acts strongly on parasitoids, because they cannot reproduce without attacking hosts. They have evolved a large variety of host search and attack strategies, based on elaborate behavioural mechanisms. This makes them an ideal model for testing evolutionary hypotheses, usually through predictions derived from mathematical models and the experimental testing of such predictions. These different characteristics make these insects an ideal model for testing evolutionary hypotheses, usually through predictions derived from mathematical models and the experimental testing of such prediction.
- Since parasitoid reproduction results in killing hosts, they can be used on a large scale to control insect pests attacking a wide variety of crops. This crop protection technique is called “biological control” and can significantly reduce of the use of toxic pesticides. More