Hyperparasitoids are secondary insect parasitoids that develop at the expense of a primary parasitoid, thereby representing a highly evolved fourth trophic level. This review evaluates multitrophic relationships and hyperparasitoid ecology. First, hyperparasitoid communities of various taxa of phytophagous and predacious insects are described. Second, specific patterns of hyperparasitoid community organization and hyperparasitoid ecology are described in detail, using the aphid-parasitoid–hyperparasitoid food web as a model system. Aphid hyperparasitoid communities consist of ecto- and endohyperparasitoids, with ectohyperparasitoids being less host specific than endohyperparasitoids. Lifetime fecundity and intrinsic rate of increase of hyperparasitoids are generally lower than those of their primary hosts. Aphid ectohyperparasitoids search randomly for hosts and do not use specific cues, whereas endohyperparasitoids gain information that originates from host plants or hosts for long-range search. Interactions with adult primary parasitoids do not influence hyperparasitoid searches, but aphid-attending ants typically prevent successful hyperparasitoid foraging. Impact of hyperparasitism on biological control is reviewed.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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