Nocturnal parasitism of moth eggs by Trichogramma wasps

Joop Woelke*, Tibor Bukovinszki, M.E. Huigens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Parasitoid wasps of the genus Trichogramma are used worldwide as biological control agents against lepidopteran pests. Trichogramma wasps develop inside eggs of a wide range of host species, most of them moths. They are generally considered as diurnal insects. Here, we investigated whether Trichogramma wasps can also successfully parasitise host eggs at night under controlled laboratory conditions. Eggs of the moth Ephestia kuehniella were offered under dark conditions (scotophase) to females of Trichogramma brassicae and Trichogramma evanescens either from 9:00 PM to 9:00 AM or from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM at four different temperatures (5°C, 10°C, 15°C and 20°C). Both species are known to parasitise E. kuehniella eggs in the photophase during daytime. The results show that T. brassicae did not parasitise eggs in the scotophase at night and only very few in the artificially induced scotophase during daytime from 10°C to 20°C. In contrast, T. evanescens parasitised more eggs in the dark both at night and artificially induced scotophase during daytime. Parasitism in the scotophase already started at 5°C, with more eggs being parasitised and more offspring being produced at higher temperatures. T. evanescens displayed higher parasitism activity in the induced scotophase during daytime than in the scotophase at night. The present study suggests that Trichogramma are capable of successfully parasitising host eggs at night, even at low temperatures, but that nocturnal activity with respect to parasitism varies between wasp species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-780
JournalBiocontrol Science and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Circadian rhythm
  • egg parasitoid
  • Ephestia kuehniella
  • offspring production
  • scotophase
  • temperature


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