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The Ecology of Hyperparasitoids


Hyperparasitoids are some of the most diverse members of insect food webs. True hyperparasitoids parasitize the larvae of other parasitoids, reaching these larvae with their ovipositor through the herbivore that hosts the parasitoid larva. During pupation, primary parasitoids also may be attacked by pseudohyperparasitoids that lay their eggs on the parasitoid (pre)pupae. By attacking primary parasitoids, hyperparasitoids may affect herbivore population dynamics, and they have been identified as a major challenge in biological control. Over the past decades, research, especially on aphid- and caterpillar-associated hyperparasitoids, has revealed that hyperparasitoids challenge rules on nutrient use efficiency in trophic chains, account for herbivore outbreaks, or stabilize competitive interactions in lower trophic levels, and they may use cues derived from complex interaction networks to locate their hosts. This review focuses on the fascinating ecology of hyperparasitoids related to how they exploit and locate their often inconspicuous hosts and the insect community processes in which hyperparasitoids are prominent players.