The bizarre world of parasitic wasps - Miles Zhang
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Parasitoids are not restricted to Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, ants). Parasitoidism has evolved multiple times within the Order Diptera (true flies), and there are even parasitic beetles and moths! They can be used as biocontrol agents to manage pest species, but some species can also attack other beneficial insects. If you want a behind-the-scenes tour of the British Natural History Museum, which has one of the largest collection of wasps, check out this interview with a fellow wasp enthusiast Dr. Gavin Broad.
One of my favorite places to look for parasitoid wasps is within oak galls, which can host a diverse group of parasitoid wasps, such as the crypt keeper wasp. If you want to learn to identify them, a good place to start is by posting photos on iNaturalist, which can often provide an accurate identification either by AI or by another naturalist such as myself. This is a fantastic way to explore the diversity of parasitoids around you, and you might even be able contribute to the discovery of new species, as many parasitoid wasps are poorly known and rarely seen alive. If you really want to learn about how to identify wasps, there is this newly developed virtual course called WaspID Course, or the long running in-person The Hym Course.
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