Tiny Parasitic Wasp Filmed in Flight for the First Time

Posted on May 27, 2011

Parasitic Wasp on a Butterfly

The Flight Artists team from Wageningen University, the Netherlands, has been the first to make high-speed camera footage of parasitic wasps of about 1 mm wingspan. The insect weighs only about 1/40,000th of a gram. The tiny wasp is so small it hitches rides on the faces of other insects. The wasps are used as biological crop protector that kills the eggs from which harmful caterpillars grow.

The high speed movies show how the parasitic wasp jumps up into the air, elegantly flaps around, and then lands. The insect sometimes lands face-first. The little wasp can flap its wings 350 times per second. Take a look:

The insect is not the smallest known insect. The Tanzanian parasitic wasp spans less than 0.3 mm, which is about 3 times smaller. This extremely small insect cannot be bred so far, therefore it can only be found and filmed in the wild.

Photo: Nina Fatouros/Flight Artists