Microplitis croceipes

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Microplitis croceipes
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Braconidae
Subfamily: Microgastrinae
Genus: Microplitis
Species: M. croceipes
Binomial name
Microplitis croceipes
(Cresson, 1872)[1]

Microplitis croceipes is a braconid wasp native to the US state of Georgia. It is an important parasitoid of caterpillars, including those of major agricultural pests Helicoverpa zea (formerly called Heliothis zea) and Heliothis virescens.[2]

M. croceipes uses its antennae to detect the odor of caterpillar feces.[3] The wasp deposits a single egg inside the caterpillar; as the wasp larvae mature they feed on the caterpillar, which weakens and dies after the larvae emerge and pupate.[4] Adult wasps emerge from their cocoons about a week after cocoon formation.[5]

Because the olfactory system of M. croceipes is linked to its taste receptors, wasps can be trained to respond to the smell of an arbitrary chemical if the smell is repeatedly presented in association with food (sugar water or corn borers).[4] The smell of "food" triggers a characteristic pattern of activity, a short-range host-seeking response.[3] Researchers have said that M. croceipes has great potential for use as a biological sensor "due to its ability to be conditioned, respond and discriminate target odors from background odors."[2] The Wasp Hound "portable nose" device depends on trained M. croceipes as its biosensor.[6]


  1. ^ "Systematics of Parasitic Hymenoptera". Whitfield Lab, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Tomberlin, Jeffery K; Moukaram Tertuliano; Glen Rains; W. Joe Lewis (September 2005). "Conditioned Microplitis croceipes Cresson (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) Detect and Respond to 2,4-DNT: Development of a Biological Sensor" (pdf). J. Forensic Sci. 50 (5): 1–4. doi:10.1520/JFS2005014. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Jones, Richard L.; W. J. Lewis; Malcolm C. Bowman; Morton Beroza; Barbara A. Bierl (1971). "Host-Seeking Stimulant for Parasite of Corn Earworm: Isolation, Identification, and Synthesis". Science. 173 (3999): 842–843. PMID 17812196. doi:10.1126/science.173.3999.842. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Appel, Adrianne (October 27, 2005). "Drug-Sniffing Wasps May Sting Crooks". National Geographic News. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  5. ^ Lewis, W. J.; R.L. Burton (1970). "Rearing Microplitis croceipes in the laboratory with Heliothis zea as hosts". Journal of Economic Entomology. 63 (2): 656–658. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  6. ^ Hall, Mimi (26 December 2005). "Scientists recruit wasps for war on terror". USAToday. Retrieved 22 February 2011.