RESOURCES: When the Wasp Stings

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Science  19 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5640, pp. 1641
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5640.1641b

Averaging only 1.5 millimeters in length, chalcidoid wasps seem like they could be bullied by a mosquito. But the wasps—which include the world's smallest bug—parasitize many larger insects, making them valuable for biocontrol. Released chalcidoids have routed outbreaks of mealybugs in Africa and the United States, for instance.

The newest database developed by London's Natural History Museum offers updated taxonomic information for the chalcidoids, which include 22,000 known species. Listings also record data such as where each species lives, what hosts it victimizes, and its economic importance. Entomologists and chalcidoid fans can buzz through descriptions and keys for the world's families or study anatomical diagrams and images; above, a female Muscidifurax zaraptor wasp plants her eggs on the pupa of a housefly. The database also provides tips on how to collect, preserve, and ship the minute wasps.

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