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Volume 2012, Article ID 134746, 24 pages
Review Article

Diversity of Species and Behavior of Hymenopteran Parasitoids of Ants: A Review

1Departamento de Entomología Tropical, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Avenida Centenario km 5.5, 77014 Chetumal, QRoo, Mexico
2Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, CNRS-UMR 5169, Université de Toulouse, UPS, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex 09, France

Received 3 October 2011; Accepted 28 October 2011

Academic Editor: Alain Lenoir

Copyright © 2012 Jean-Paul Lachaud and Gabriela Pérez-Lachaud. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Reports of hymenopterans associated with ants involve more than 500 species, but only a fraction unambiguously pertain to actual parasitoids. In this paper, we attempt to provide an overview of both the diversity of these parasitoid wasps and the diversity of the types of interactions they have formed with their ant hosts. The reliable list of parasitoid wasps using ants as primary hosts includes at least 138 species, reported between 1852 and 2011, distributed among 9 families from 3 superfamilies. These parasitoids exhibit a wide array of biologies and developmental strategies: ecto- or endoparasitism, solitary or gregarious, and idio- or koinobiosis. All castes of ants and all developmental stages, excepting eggs, are possible targets. Some species parasitize adult worker ants while foraging or performing other activities outside the nest; however, in most cases, parasitoids attack ant larvae either inside or outside their nests. Based on their abundance and success in attacking ants, some parasitoid wasps like diapriids and eucharitids seem excellent potential models to explore how parasitoids impact ant colony demography, population biology, and ant community structure. Despite a significant increase in our knowledge of hymenopteran parasitoids of ants, most of them remain to be discovered.