To locate their hosts, parasitic wasps can 'eavesdrop' on the intraspecific chemical communications of their insect hosts1, 2, 3. Here we describe an example in which the information exploited by the parasitic wasp Trichogramma brassicae is a butterfly anti-aphrodisiac that is passed from male to female Pieris brassicae butterflies during mating, to render them less attractive to conspecific males4, 5, 6. When the tiny wasp detects the odour of a mated female butterfly, it rides on her (Fig. 1) to her egg-laying sites and then parasitizes the freshly laid eggs. If this fascinating strategy is widespread in nature, it could severely constrain the evolution of sexual communication between hosts.