Nonreproductive Effects of Insect Parasitoids on Their Hosts

Annu Rev Entomol. 2019 Jan 7;64:259-276. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-011118-111753. Epub 2018 Oct 12.


The main modes of action of insect parasitoids are considered to be killing their hosts with egg laying followed by offspring development (reproductive mortality), and adults feeding on hosts directly (host feeding). However, parasitoids can also negatively affect their hosts in ways that do not contribute to current or future parasitoid reproduction (nonreproductive effects). Outcomes of nonreproductive effects for hosts can include death, altered behavior, altered reproduction, and altered development. On the basis of these outcomes and the variety of associated mechanisms, we categorize nonreproductive effects into ( a) nonconsumptive effects, ( b) mutilation, ( c) pseudoparasitism, ( d) immune defense costs, and ( e) aborted parasitism. These effects are widespread and can cause greater impacts on host populations than successful parasitism or host feeding. Nonreproductive effects constitute a hidden dimension of host-parasitoid trophic networks, with theoretical implications for community ecology as well as applied importance for the evaluation of ecosystem services provided by parasitoid biological control agents.

Keywords: mutilation; nonconsumptive effects; parasitism; population dynamics; pseudoparasitism; trophic networks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Genetic Fitness
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Insecta / parasitology*
  • Pest Control, Biological
  • Population Dynamics