Photography by Max E. Badgley (1922-2006)
Anaphes iole Girault (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae) is a native, solitary egg parasitoid of Lygus spp. (Heteroptera: Miridae) in North America.
Lygus bugs, the prey of this parasitoid, belong to the family Miridae or plant bugs. Like other true bugs, their front wings are thick and leathery proximally, and membranous distally. Their sucking mouthparts pierce and consume plant tissue, weakening the plant and reducing yields.
The parasitoid Anaphes iole is a member of the family Mymaridae, known collectively as fairyflies. Many in this family are among the tiniest of all insects, ranging in length from 0.2-1 mm. Their hind wings are distinctively edged by a fringe of long, microscopic hairs, which are vaguely observable in the above photo at the distal end of each wing.
All known species in this family are parasites of insect eggs, such as flies, beetles, booklice, and leafhoppers. Many species in the genus Anaphes are used for biological control of these insects. For example, A. flavipes, an introduced species, parasitizes the eggs of the cereal leaf beetle. A. iole has been used against the tarnished plant bug. A. luna helps control the alfalfa weevil.
Another important fairyfly genus is Anagrus; A. epos parasitizes white apple leafhopper eggs, and A. nigriventris parasitizes potato leafhopper eggs.
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