Parasitiic wasp, Encarsia formosa for whitefly control

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Encarsia formosa are very small about 0.5 to 1 mm long endoparasitic wasps. These endoparasitic wasps have brownish to black colored thorax and yellowish abdomen. Encarsia formosa wasps are considered as endoparasites because their all the stages (eggs, larvae and pupae) except adults complete their development inside the bodies of nymph or pupae of whiteflies. Only adult wasps live outside of their hosts. These endoparasitic Encarsia formosa wasps are known to parasitize and kill both the larvae and pupae of various species of whiteflies (see below).

Facts (show all)

- Effective against the following pests
  • The Greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurods vaporarium
  • The silver leaf whitefly, Bemicia argentifolii
  • The sweet potato whitefly, Bemicia tabaci
+ Key factors for Encarsia formosa effectiveness
  • Both adults and larvae of Encarsia formosa can feed on the whitefly nymphs and pupae.
  • Generally adult wasps punctures the body of whitefly nymphs or pupae with their ovipositor and then feed on the oozing blood (hemolymph) or the body content of the nymphs or pupae.
  • In contrast, after hatching from eggs, the wasp larvae generally feed internally on the body content of whitefly nymphs or pupae.
  • Thus, both adults and larvae of Encarsia formosa eventually kill their host.
  • Depending upon the species of whiteflies, the parasitized dead nymphs or pupae can turn light brown to dark brown or black in color within 7 to 10 days after parasitization.
+ How parasitic Encarsia formosa wasps work in the field
  1. These wasps are generally sold as parasitized pupae that can be easily released in the field for the control of whiteflies.
  2. When Encarsia formosa wasps released either in the fields or greenhouses, their females generally lay over 50 eggs inside the bodies of whitefly nymph or pupae.
  3. The eggs hatch into tiny larvae that immediately start feeding on the body content of whitefly nymph or pupae.
  4. While feeding, wasp larvae develop through three larval stages.
  5. The matured larvae then form pupae and kill the whitefly nymphs and pupae.
  6. This killing of both nymphs and pupae by Encarsia formosa wasps prevents outbreak of future generations of whiteflies that in turn can reduce the economic damage caused by whitefly infestations to different crops.
+ Which stages of whitefly are parasitized by parasitic wasp Encarsia formosa?
  • Third and fourth stages of whitefly nymphs
  • Pre-pupae and Pupae of whiteflies
+ How many Encarsia formosa wasps should be released?
  • Encarsia formosa wasps are commercially available as parasitized pupae of whiteflies.
  • For the effective control of whiteflies, it is recommended to release 10-15 Encarsia formosa parasitized pupae per 10 square meter whitefly infested area.
  • In heavily whitefly infested area wasps should be released 3-4 times weekly.
+ When Encarsia formosa wasps should be released for the effective control of whiteflies?
  • Parasitic Encarsia formosa wasps should be released when there is a presence of whiteflies on the plants.
  • Release them early in the morning or evening when day light level and temperature low.
+ How Encarsia formosa wasps should be released for effective control of whiteflies?
  • Encarsia formosa are supplied as pupae protected in the greenhouse whitefly pupae which are generally used as a host.
  • Release these wasps within 18 hours of receipt but if you are not ready to release them then store them in the cool place at 45-50°F (7-10°C).
  • These parasitized pupae are adhered to a small card which can be hung in the plants.
+ Why you need them
  • they can reduce the whitefly crop damage by parasitizing and feeding on the nymphs and pupae of whiteflies
  • they are able to actively search for their host, the different species of whiteflies
  • they can reproduce and continue their life cycle in the garden after first application
  • they are commercially available and easy to release in the greenhouses or fields
+ Why they are safer than traditional pesticides
  • they do not damage plants
  • do not cause any harm to the personnel involved in their production and application
  • food products are safe to handle and eat when they are treated with wasps
  • they do not harm humans, animals and pollute the environment
+ Research Papers
  1. Berndt, O. and Meyhofer, R. 2008. Whitefly control in cut gerbera: is it possible to control Trialeurodes vaporariorum with Encarsia formosa? Biocontrol 53: 751-762.
  2. van Lenteren, J.C., van Roermund, H.J.W. and Sütterlin, S. 1996. Biological control of greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) with the parasitoid Encarsia formosa:How does it work? Biological Control 6: 1–10.

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