Insect hyperparasitoids are fourth trophic level organisms that commonly occur in terrestrial food webs, yet they are relatively understudied. These top-carnivores can disrupt biological pest control by suppressing the populations of their parasitoid hosts, leading to pest outbreaks, especially in confined environments such as greenhouses where augmentative biological control is used. There is no effective eco-friendly strategy that can be used to control hyperparasitoids. Recent advances in the chemical ecology of hyperparasitoid foraging behavior have opened opportunities for manipulating these top-carnivores in such a way that biological pest control becomes more efficient. We propose various infochemical-based strategies to manage hyperparasitoids. We suggest that a push-pull strategy could be a promising approach to ‘push’ hyperparasitoids away from their parasitoid hosts and ‘pull’ them into traps. Additionally, we discuss how infochemicals can be used to develop innovative tools improving biological pest control (i) to restrict accessibility of resources (e.g. sugars and alternative hosts) to primary parasitoid only or (ii) to monitor hyperparasitoid presence in the crop for early detection. We also identify important missing information in order to control hyperparasitoids and outline what research is needed to reach this goal. Testing the efficacy of synthetic infochemicals in confined environments is a crucial step towards the implementation of chemical ecology-based approaches targeting hyperparasitoids.
- fourth trophic level organisms
- herbivore-induced plant volatiles
- hyperparasitoid foraging
- infochemical-based strategies
- multitrophic interactions