Research Group: 
Running period: 
2016 to 2020

Hymenopterous parasitoids are key biological control agents that contribute to biological control of economically important pests in both agricultural and natural ecosystems. When searching for herbivorous host-insects, they make use of so-called herbivore-induced plant volatiles that are emitted by the plant in response to insect feeding damage. Upon a first host encounter they learn to associate these volatiles with the presence of the host, and subsequently increase their response- and preference level towards the learned volatiles making them excellent learners. Field studies have shown strong effects of associative learning on parasitoid foraging success. This learning ability of parasitoids holds great promise for the optimization of biological pest control that have rarely been explored and applied before. In this project we aim to boost parasitoid efficacy for the control of citrus mealybugs by developing a method for training parasitoids with mealybug-induced crop volatiles upon their release into the field/ greenhouse.

This is a large collaborative project, involving the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), WUR Entomology and Greenhouse Horticulture in Bleiswijk, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, BioBee Sde Eliyahu Ltd and Koppert Biological Systems B.V. The project is funded by the NWO Groen (



NWO Groen

Research team

Marjolein Kruidhof (Greenhouse Horticulture)
Hans Smid (WUR)
Nicole van Dam (IDIV)
Koppert Biological Systems