Fun Braconid Wasp Facts For Kids

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 20, 2022 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Natalie Rayworth
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Read these braconid wasp facts to learn more about the parasitoids.

Braconid wasps are actually part of the family braconidae, which is a collective name given to more than thousands of species. In fact, all these species haven’t even been officially described yet, with only a few hundred of them having been described.

Like many other types of wasps, the braconid wasp is only dangerous to human beings when they are threatened or abused. Apart from that, the braconid wasp can actually be quite useful for the environment and vegetation. These parasites feed on insects like hornworms, flies, aphids and bugs.

This can help save gardens and fields. One of the most well-known sub-species of these parasites is cotesia glomerata (Apanteles glomeratus).

The feed on various hornworms such as the tobacco hornworm and tomato hornworm, in turn benefitting humans. Braconid wasps are parasitoids that tend to kill their hosts or make them sterile.

Read on to find out some amazing specifics about these members of braconidae family. After reading these interesting facts on this parasitoid, check out our other articles on common wasp and honey bee as well.

Braconid Wasp Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a braconid wasp?

Braconid wasps are an insect that belong to the family of braconidae. Most braconids are parasitoids that can survive inside or outside of the host body. These parasitoids look like an ant as their head is shaped like one.  

What class of animal does a braconid wasp belong to?

Braconid wasps belong to the phylum of arthropoda. Though a vast diversity prevails in this class of organisms, characteristics such as jointed appendages, pairs of antennae, compound eyes, and a body consisting mainly of the head, thorax, and abdomen are traits that are commonly observed in a majority of the members.

How many braconid wasps are there in the world?

With over 40 thousand species, braconid wasps are thought to be abundant in numbers all over the world. It is nearly impossible to offer an estimate of their total population. One of the most well-known subspecies of these pests is cotesia glomerata (Apanteles glomeratus).

Where does a braconid wasp live?

Braconid wasps are normally found in heavily wooded areas such as forests and wetlands. Owing to rapid urbanization, forests have reduced in size and so have the population of trees, so these pests can now also be found in urban gardens and places that have plants where flowers bloom.

These parasites lay eggs inside the body of many species such as tobacco hornworm caterpillar and tomato hornworm caterpillar. Once this pest species lay their eggs, they kill the host.

What is a braconid wasp's habitat?

Braconid wasps are normally found in heavily wooded areas such as forests and wetlands. Owing to rapid urbanization, forests have reduced in size and so have the population of trees, therefore braconid wasps can now be found in urban gardens, as here they can kill different insects that feed on and destroy plants.

Moreover, they are attracted by the scent of caterpillars feasting on plant leaves.

Who do braconid wasps live with?

Braconid wasps are essentially larval parasitoid insects. This means that braconids live with the host creature, which could be another insect or another parasite.

Since they sometimes behave like a parasite to a parasite itself, they are also referred to as a hyperparasite. However, once braconids achieve adulthood, these pests live by themselves and feast on nectar, fruits and bugs.

How long does a braconid wasp live?

The life cycle of a braconid wasp involves the full metamorphosis cycle, starting from braconid wasp eggs to larva, pupa and finally adulthood. Having said that, their actual life spans are quite short. In fact, most braconid wasps will only create one generation.

How do they reproduce?

Braconid wasps reproduce like every other wasp in their biological family. Braconids lay eggs in their host, which is normally an insect. After laying these braconid wasp eggs, the eggs source their nutrition from the host and gradually emerge from the egg to form larvae.

These larvae proceed to consume the host fully and stay in the braconid wasp cocoons. Following the braconid wasp larvae stage, they weave a pupa around themselves to mature further. At the end of the cycle, an adult wasp emerges from the cocoon.

What is their conservation status?

Parasitic braconid wasps are quite easily found in many parts of the world. Therefore, braconids are in no danger of Extinction as of yet. This is why braconid wasps conservation status, at present, stands at Least Concern.

Braconid Wasp Fun Facts

What do braconid wasps look like?

Braconid wasps are tiny in size and are extremely dull colored. Their wings often sport bands and spots. Generally, male braconid wasps are smaller than female braconid wasps.

Female braconid wasps are noticeably bigger due to their ovipositor. The ovipositor is the organ used by female braconid wasps to lay eggs in their host. Many species of these parasites have orange or red colored abdomens as well.

Braconid wasps live inside the host and are notorious for killing their hosts.

How cute are they?

Braconid wasps are not cute at all. Even at their finest aesthetic, braconid wasps can be referred to as pretty but never cute. This lethal pests are known to kill their hosts without any exception. Braconid wasps only look pretty when in their natural habitat of flowers, trees, and vegetation.

How do they communicate?

Wasps essentially communicate with one another by way of their pheromones. Much like in humans, and even other wasp species, pheromones play a crucial role in communication with their species. It is used to communicate danger, attraction toward a mate, aggressiveness and hunger.

How big is a braconid wasp?

Measuring only about 0.6 in (1.5 cm) in terms of their wingspan, even an adult braconid wasp is a tiny insect. They would not even amount to one hundredth the size of a human. They are, however, one and a half times the size of a fire ant.

How fast can braconid wasps move?

There are no exact details about the flying speeds of adult braconid wasps. However, braconids are known to be fast-moving wasps.

How much does a braconid wasp weigh?

Braconid wasps are so tiny and light that is is difficult to get an actual measurement of their weight.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names allotted to the members of the braconid wasps species on the basis of their sex. Adult males are referred to as male braconid wasps and adult females are referred to as female braconid wasps.

What would you call a baby braconid wasp?

Baby braconid wasps are usually existent in the form of an egg first, then a larvae which transitions into a pupa and ultimately an adult braconid wasp. Therefore, a baby braconid wasp would be referred to as braconid wasp eggs. Most of the life cycle is completed inside the host body.

What do they eat?

Until these parasites become adults, braconids are either ectoparasitic insects or endoparasites, meaning these pests consume other insects as a form of nutrition. These insects are actually their own hosts. However, once these pests mature into adults, these insects feed on tomato hornworm, tobacco hornworm, flies, aphids, beetles, caterpillars, bugs or other insects.

Are they harmful?

No, braconid wasps do not sting unless human beings threaten their life. In fact, braconid wasps can be quite helpful to humans. This is mainly because braconids act as excellent pest controllers in gardens by killing various pests that eat and destroy plants.

Would they make a good pet?

No, braconid wasps would not make good pets at all since braconids are insects with the ability to fly and shouldn’t be kept locked in a chamber or room.

Did you know...

Braconid wasps most well-known enemy, in terms of its prey, is the tomato hornworm caterpillar. Adult braconid wasps are highly attracted to the scent of caterpillars who munch on plants.

The species of braconid wasps is believed to have experienced massive diversification during the Cretaceous and  Cenozoic periods.

Due to the excellency of their olfactory receptors, the Microplitis croceipes species of braconid wasps are said to be capable enough to be trained as explosive detectors. A braconid wasp sting is harmless to humans because there is no venom in it.

In absence of any parasites, a hornworm caterpillar can live for two to three weeks, eating the entire time. But as soon as a parasitic wasp lays eggs inside hornworm caterpillars, the life of the host is reduced to around a week, and during that time, the host species is too ill to eat anything.

Along with invading the host body, these pests also inject the polyDNAvirus inside the host body.

This virus is injected inside the host when the female lays her eggs. This virus disables the defense system of the host and as such provides a safe space for wasp eggs, larvae, and pupae.

How long does it take for braconid wasps to hatch?

Every braconid wasp takes their own time to hatch and complete their process of metamorphosis. Therefore, one cannot specify the average amount of time it usually takes for a braconid wasp to hatch.

Are braconid wasps good or bad?

Braconid wasps are actually excellent to have around, especially if you own a garden or a farm. This is because braconid wasps lay eggs on pests such as tomato hornworms, thus leaving your plants pest-free.

These pests could also be an agent of pollination for your flowers and plants. Braconid wasps keep pests like tomato hornworms, cutworms, cabbage worms, corn earworms, corn borers and cabbage loopers at bay.

However, if you own and maintain a garden specifically dedicated to butterflies, it is probably best to keep braconid wasps away since these parasitoids cannot differentiate between butterfly caterpillars and moth caterpillars. All they know is to act as a parasite on caterpillars.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including crab spider, or atlas beetle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Braconid wasp coloring pages.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Chandan Shukla picture

Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

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