is a large group of poorly known parasitic wasps, of which about
20,000 species have been named. But many more species are known
and have not yet been described. Many of the species are parasites
of other insects, and may play an important role in controlling
their populations. Some chalcidoids are important agents in the
control of pest species - biological control. Some other chalcidoids
feed on plants; fig trees are pollinated by the fig-wasps. This
group of chalcidoids is essential for the production of fruit; the
wasp larvae use a small proportion of the fruit to supply food for
their own development.
why are chalcidoids so poorly known?
average length is only about 1.5mm which makes them very difficult
to collect. Modern sampling methods such as canopy-fogging together
with new methods of preservation, have revealed an incredible richness
of species with a great variety of form and colour.
family of Chalcidoidea, Encyrtidae, is the subject of a Natural
History Museum investigation in Costa Rica. This is the first comprehensive
tropical survey of mini-wasps. Of more than 4000 Encyrtidae species,
just 11 have been recorded from Costa Rica. By comparison, Britain
with five times the area of Costa Rica, has 200 species. New sampling
indicates that there may be as many as 1000 species in Costa Rica.
This study will identify and catalogue these species, and develop
manuals for their identification. Most species from Costa Rica also
occur elsewhere in tropical Central and South America, also known
as the Neotropics.
example a wasp from the genus Secticlava.
canopy insects using the technique known as "fogging".
of three wasp genera of the Chalcidoidea; Psyllaephagus,
Metaphycus and Aenasius.
project is part of the Faunas and Floras Research Theme.
further information contact:
The Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK
Tel: +44 (0)207 938 9328 Fax: +44 (0)207 938 8937
E-mail John Noyes firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright 1994-2001 The Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK.