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Biological Control : A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America Anthony Shelton, Ph.D., Professor of Entomology, Cornell University

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Cotesia (=Apanteles) glomerata
(Hymenoptera: Braconidae)

Cotesia glomerata was introduced to North America in 1883 for the control of the imported cabbageworm on cole crops and has become a major mortality factor of cabbageworm.


Cotesia adults are small (about 7 mm), dark wasps and resemble flying ants or tiny flies. They have two pairs of wings, the hindwings being smaller than the forewings, and chewing-lapping mouth parts. The antennae are about 1.5 mm long, and curved (not elbowed) upward. The abdomen of the female narrows to a downward curving extension called the ovipositor with which she lays eggs. The pupae are in an irregular mass of yellow silken cocoons attached to the host larva or to plant leaves.

Habitat (Crops)

Cole crops.

Pests Attacked

The imported cabbageworm and its relative Pieris brassicae.

Life Cycle

Adults mate and the females lay eggs, in most cases, immediately after emerging from their cocoons. Eggs are deposited into larvae (preferably first instar) of caterpillars--about 20-60 per larva--soon after mating. A female lays about 150-200 eggs during her life. Cotesia larvae emerge after about 15-20 days and spin their cocoons on or near the host which dies when the wasps emerge. The life cycle, from egg to adult, is approximately 22-30 days, depending on the temperature.

Life Cycle

Pesticide Susceptibility

In studies C. glomerata has been shown to be susceptible to several pesticides commonly used on cole crops.

Relative Effectiveness

In the early season, parasitism by C. glomerata is low. However, numbers increase as the year progresses. By midseason, about half of imported cabbageworm larvae are parasitized, and late in the growing season, that percentage has increased to 60-75%. In addition, C. glomerata may be an important vector in the transmission of the granulosis virus in imported cabbageworm. It is resistant to attack by many hyperparasitoids.


Follow integrated pest management guidelines as presented in the tutorial of this guide.

Commercial Availability

Cotesia glomerata is not available commercially at this time.


Thanks to Saskya Daly van Nouhuys, Department of Entomology, Cornell University, for providing material and for reviewing and making suggestions which have improved this section.


Hamilton, A.G. (1935) Miscellaneous observations on the biology of Apanteles glomeratus L. (Braconidae). Entomol. Monthly Mag., 71: 262-270.

Hamilton, J.T. and Attia, F.I. (1975) The susceptibility of the parasite Apanteles glomeratus (L.) (Hym.: Braconidae) to insecticides. J. Entomol. Soc. of Australia, 9:

Levin, D.B., Laing, J.E., Jaques, R.P. and Corrigan, J.E. (1983) Transmission of the granulosis virus of Pieris rapae (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) by the parasitoid Apanteles glomeratus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Environ. Entomol., 12: 166-170.

McDonald, R.C. and Kok, L.T. (1991) Hyperparasites attacking Cotesia glomerata (L.) and Cotesia rubecula (Marshall) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) in southwestern Virginia. Biol. Control, 1: 170-175.

Matheson, R. (1907) The life-history of Apanteles glomeratus, L. Can. Entomol., 39: 205-207.

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Larvae of Cotesia glomerata

Adult Cotesia glomerata

Top: Larvae of Cotesia glomerata begin to spin their cocoons after emerging from an imported cabbageworm caterpillar.

Bottom: Adult Cotesia glomerata that has emerged from cocoons attached to an imported cabbageworm caterpillar.

PHOTOS: J.Ogrodnick


Larvae of Cotesia glomerata


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