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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Superfamily: Chalcidoidea
Family: Trichogrammatidae
Genus: Trichogramma

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Trichogramma are minute polyphagous wasps, commonly known as stingless wasps, that are endoparasitoids of insect eggs. [1] Endoparasitoids lay their eggs in eggs or larvae of other species. Currently in the world there is an estimated 50 million animal species with 1.7 million having been described. Of these, seventy-five per cent are believed to be insects. Trichogramma represent around 80 genera from the Trichogrammatidae family with over 800 species worldwide. [2][3][4]

Members of the Trichogrammatidae family range in size from 0.2 to 1.5 mm. Key means of dispersal include walking and short jumps. [5] The adults require sugar as an energy source obtained from nectars, honeydew, plant sap and sugars leached through the phloem. They occur naturally in a variety of habitats across the world and have the ability to parasitize numerous host species. Their main hosts are eggs of Lepidoptera and other species such as Hymenoptera, Neuroptera, Diptera, Coleoptera and Hemiptera. [1]

Although there are several egg parasitoids commonly used throughout the world, Trichogramma have been the most extensively studied. [6] There have been more than a thousand papers published on Trichogramma and they are the most used biological control agents in the world. [3]


Female adults use chemical and visual signals, such as eggs shape and colour, to locate target eggs. [3] When a suitable egg is found the experienced female will use antennal drumming, tapping on the egg surface, and from the interior by the ovipositor, to determine if the egg has previously been parasitized. Atennal drumming is also used to determine the size and quality of the target egg, which determines the appropriate number of eggs the female will insert.[7] A single female can parasitize one to ten target eggs a day.


Trichogramma are small and very uniform in nature which causes difficulty in identifying the separate species. [8] [9] As females are all relatively similar it has always fallen upon the males to tell the different species apart by examining their antennae and genitalia. [10][11] Currently the number of Trichogramma species is approaching 200 but previously in 1960 it was thought only six species of Trichogramma existed. [1]

The first description of a Trichogramma species was in North America in 1871 by Charles V. Riley. He described the tiny wasps that emerged from eggs of the Viceroy butterfly as Trichogramma minutum. [3] In entomology, original specimens are very important as they are the basis of reference for subsequent descriptions of species. The original specimens, however, were lost.

Riley also described a second species in 1879 as Trichogramma pretiosum, but these specimens were lost too. As a result, taxonomists must rely on written descriptions of these original specimens. This most likely has contributed to the difficulty in separating the morphologically similar Trichogramma genera.

To correct these errors, entomologists returned to the areas where Riley originally found the species and obtained neotype specimens of T. minutum and T. pretiosum. These specimens are now preserved properly in the United States National Museum. [3]

Biological control[edit]

Trichogramma have been used for control of lepidopteran pests for many years. They can be considered the Drosophila of the parasitoid world as they have been used for inundative releases and much of our understanding today comes from experiments with these wasps. [12]

Entomologists in the early 1900s began to rear Trichogramma for biological control. Trichogramma minutum is one of the most commonly found species in Europe and was first mass reared in 1926 on eggs of Sitotroga cerealella. [1]

Nine species of Trichogramma are produced commercially in insectaries around the world with 30 countries experiencing Trichogramma released in them. Trichogramma are used for control on numerous crops and plants, these include cotton, sugarcane, vegetables, sugar beets, orchards and forests. [13] Some of the pests that are controlled include Cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), Codling moth (Cydia pomonella), Lightbrown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana), and European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis).

Trichogramma species vary in their host specificity. This can lead to non-target hosts being parasitized. This can cause problems by reducing the amount of parasitism of the target host, and depending on the rate of parasitism, non-target effects could be significant on non-target host populations. When picking Trichogramma for biological control, it is important to try to choose a host specific species and preferably a native species of Trichogramma.

Species used[edit]

The most commonly used species for biological control are T. atopovirilia, T. brevicapillum, T. deion, T. exiguum, T. fuentesi, T. minutum, T. nubilale, T. platneri, T. pretiosum and T. thalense.[3]

Trichogramma pretiosum

Trichogramma pretiosum is the most widely distributed Trichogramma species in North America. [3] It has been the focus of many research studies and has been able to be reared on 18 genera of Lepidoptera. It is a more general parasitoid, by which it is likely to parasitise a range of different species.

Trichogramma pretiosum (Riley) was introduced into Australia in the 1970s as part of the Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA) IPM scheme. [14][15] Trichogramma pretiosum was originally used to describe Trichogramma from hosts on non-arboreal plants such as cotton.

Trichogramma carverae

Trichogramma carverae are mainly used for light brown apple moth and codling moth control and is predominately used in orchards.[16] In Australia T. carverae is used for biological control of light brown apple moth in vineyards. Though Australia has its own native Trichogramma species there has not been much work undertaken to commercially use them for biological control within Australia. [17]

Light brown apple moth is common throughout Australia and is polyphagous on more than 80 native and introduced species. The larvae are the stage that causes the most damage, especially to grape berries which provides sites for bunch rot to occur.[18] Losses in the crops can amount up to $2000/ ha in one season. It is very predominant in areas like the Yarra Valley. Insecticide use is not a preferred method by most growers who prefer a more natural mean of controlling pests. As a result, Trichogramma were considered a good candidate for biological control as the larvae are difficult to control with insecticide and light brown apple moths are relatively vulnerable to egg parasitism with their eggs being laid in masses of 20-50 on the upper surfaces of basal leaves in grapevines.

Species list[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Flanders S, Quednau W (1960) Taxonomy of the genus Trichogramma (Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea, Trichogrammatidae). BioControl 5, 285-294.
  2. ^ Consoli FL, Parra JRP, Zucchi RA (2010) 'Egg Parasitoids in Agroecosystems with Emphasis on Trichogramma.' (Springer).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Knutson A (2005) 'The Trichogramma Manual: A guide to the use of Trichogramma for Bilogical Control with Special Reference to Augmentative Releases for Control of bollworm and Budworm in Cotton.' (Texas Agricultural Extension Service).
  4. ^ Sumer F, Tuncbilek AS, Oztemiz S, Pintureau B, Rugman-Jones P, Stouthamer R (2009) A molecular key to the common species of Trichogramma of the Mediterranean region. BioControl 54, 617-624.
  5. ^ Romeis J, Babendreier D, Wäckers FL, Shanower TG (2005) Habitat and plant specificity of Trichogramma egg parasitoids—underlying mechanisms and implications. Basic and Applied Ecology 6, 215-236.
  6. ^ Upadhyay RK, Mukerji KG, Chamola BP (2001) 'Biocontrol potential and its Exploitation in Sustainable Agriculture: Insect Pests.' (Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers).
  7. ^ Klomp, H; Teerink, B.J.; Wei, Chun Ma (1979). "Discrimination Between Parasitized and Unparasitized Hosts in the Egg Parasite Trichogramma Embryophagum (Hym.=Trichogrammatidae)=a Matter of Learning and Forgetting". Netherlands Journal of Zoology (Koninklijke Brill NV) 30 (2): 254 – 27. doi:10.1163/002829679X00412. ISSN 0028-2960. Retrieved May 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ Nagarkatti S, Nagaraja H (1977) Biosystematics of Trichogramma and Trichogrammatoidea species. Annual Review of Entomology 22, 157-176
  9. ^ Thomson LJ, Rundle BJ, Carew ME, Hoffmann AA (2003) Identification and characterization of Trichogramma species from south-eastern Australia using the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS-2) region of the ribosomal gene complex. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 106, 235-240.
  10. ^ Nagarkatti S, Nagaraja H (1971) Redescriptions of some known species of Trichogramma (Hym., Trichogrammatidae), showing the importance of the male genitalia as a diagnostic character. Bulletin of Entomological Research 61, 13-31
  11. ^ Polaszek A, Rugman-Jones P, Stouthamer R, Hernandez-Suarez E, Cabello T, del Pino Pérez M (2012) Molecular and morphological diagnoses of five species of Trichogramma: biological control agents of Chrysodeixis chalcites (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in the Canary Islands. BioControl 57, 21-35.
  12. ^ Smith SM (1996) Biological control with Trichogramma: advances, successes, and potential of their use. In 'Annual Review of Entomology' pp. 375-406.
  13. ^ Hassan SA (1993) The mass rearing and utilization of Trichogramma to control lepidopterous pests: Achievements and outlook. Pesticide Science 37, 387-391.
  14. ^ Davies AP, Zalucki MP (2008) Collection of Trichogramma Westwood (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) from tropical northern Australia: a survey of egg parasitoids for potential pest insect biological control in regions of proposed agricultural expansion. Australian Journal of Entomology 47, 160-167.
  15. ^ Davies AP, Pufke US, Zalucki MP (2011) Spatio-temporal variation in Helicoverpa egg parasitism by Trichogramma in a tropical Bt-transgenic cotton landscape. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 13, 247-258.
  16. ^ Llewellyn R (2002) The good bug book: beneficial organisms commercially available in Australia and New Zealand for biological pest control.' (Integrated Pest Management Pty Ltd).
  17. ^ Glenn DC, Hercus MJ, Hoffmann AA (1997) Characterizing Trichogramma (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) species for biocontrol of light brown apple moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in grapevines in Australia. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 90, 128-137.
  18. ^ Glenn DC, Hoffmann AA (1997) Developing a commercially viable system for biological control of light brown apple moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in grapes using endemic Trichogramma (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 90, 370-382.

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