WOWbug (Melittobia digitata)

These are parasitic wasps in the family Eulophidae, and are found world-wide.  Females lay eggs on the exoskeleton of larvae or pupae of other insects, favorites being mud dauber wasps and flesh fly puparia.  The larvae hatch out of the eggs and consume the host that they were laid on from the outside in.  Females can lay up to 800 eggs, and 95% of their progeny will be female.  Wowbugs mature from egg to adult in 14-18 days, with adults living another week.  Male wowbugs are blind and produce a pheromone to attract females.  Once a female locates them, the male will perform an elaborate courtship ritual.  If another male appears instead though, the two will fight violently.  Wowbugs are the size of very small ants, with females being dark in color and having much larger wings than males witch are more amber-colored. 

Availability: These need to be ordered and will be available after spring break.

Housing:  Keep your WOWbugs at room temperature and humidity.  These are tiny insects, and you may want a microscope near your container to view your wowbugs easier.  They do not need much room and can be reared in a test tube or pill bottle with a cotton ball stopper.  Make sure the stopper is in tightly, as females will try to escape.

Food: Provide adult wasps with a number of flesh fly pupae at various stages, they will choose which ones they like best to lay their eggs on.  You should be able to see holes in the puparium within a few days.  You can check the pupariums for larvae by carefully popping off the end of the puparium with your thumbnail.  This will allow you to see inside the pupal case surrounding the fly pupa.  The eggs will be laid directly on the developing pupa, and the larvae should be eating on the surface. The larvae will hatch out and feed their entire life on the puparium they were laid on.  Adult wowbugs do not eat.