Citizen Science

This page is especially written for all of those interested in collaborating with researches on microgastrine wasps. There are MANY things that we do not know about parasitoid wasps and their caterpillar hosts... interested citizens can truly become scientists and help gathering some of that information. There is SO MUCH to be discovered yet!

In a similar way data on other biological groups is gathered and shared by interested citizens (think, for example, about birds and butterflies counting, insect photography, recording of species observations on specialized sites, etc.), there is GREAT potential to become involved with the study of parasitoid wasps.

The main challenge is that they are usually too small to be seen flying, and thus require different, but nevertheless exciting, approaches. One of the most interesting and useful ways is looking for their hosts (in this case caterpillars) and then rearing them. By doing so, one ends with either the adult of the caterpillar (a moth or a butterfly) or a parasitoid. [In some cases the caterpillar may die from a pathogen or unknown causes]. Among the parasitoids, some would be flies (mostly from the family Tachinidae) and some would be parasitoid wasps (mostly from the families Ichneumonidae and Braconidae -the latter comprising the microgastrine wasps among other groups). The microgastrine wasps would ordinarily represent half or so of the total parasitoid wasps that are reared -although the actual percentage will vary depending on the site, time of the year, etc.

Here we provide some advice for anyone interested in rearing caterpillars and their parasitoids. Check the left panel for more information and suggestions, as well as some interesting videos and other resources about microgastrine wasps.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith