Biology

The Charipinae are solitary obligate hyperparasitoids of aphids (Aphididae) and psyllids (Psyllidae) (Menke & Evenhuis, 1991). According to the host, charipines were previously divided in two major tribes, the Alloxystini (hyperparasitoids of aphids) and the Charipini (hyperparasitoids of psyllids), but after the study of the phylogeny of the subfamily these tribes are now considered unvalid (Paretas-Martínez et al. 2007a). Nine genera of Charipinae are recognized (Carver, 1993; Ronquist, 1999; Paretas-Martínez and Pujade-Villar, 2006; Pujade-Villar and Paretas-Martínez, 2006; Paretas-Martínez et al., 2007b; Liu et al., 2007): Alloxysta Förster, 1869 (cosmopolitan), Phaenoglyphis Förster, 1869 (cosmopolitan), Lytoxysta Kieffer, 1909 (North America), Lobopterocharips Paretas-Martinez and Pujade-Villar, 2007 (Nepal), Dilyta Förster, 1869 (cosmopolitan except South America and Australia), Apocharips  Ferguson, 1986 (Europe and Neotropical), Dilapothor Paretas-Martinez and Pujade-Villar, 2006 (Australia), Thoreauana Girault, 1930 (Australia) and †Protocharips Kovalev, 1994 (fossil, Siberia). The Charipinae have a wide continental and insular distribution mainly in the temperate areas, ranging from above the Arctic Circle (Lappland and Alaska) to 47º S in Argentina, and have found at 2.750 m. (Andrews, 1978).

According to Fergusson (1986) and Menke and Evenhuis (1991), the former Alloxystini (Alloxysta, Phaenoglyphis, Lytoxysta) are endoparasitoids of Aphidiinae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonoidea: Braconidae) and Aphelinus Dalman, 1820 (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Aphelinidae) that are endoparasitoids of aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae), while the former Charipini (Dilyta, Apocharips) are endoparasitoids of Encyrtidae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea) that are endoparasitoids of psyllids (Hemiptera: Psyllidae). The Charipinae are economically important in reducing the effectiveness of Aphidiinae and Aphelinus as parasitoids of aphid pests.

It is important to note that as hyperparasitoids the Charipinae could modify the correct biological control done by the primary parasitoids on aphids. They could decrease the abundance and modify the behaviour of these primary parasitoids resulting in a significant increase of the host populations (Müller et al., 1999; van Veen et al., 2001). The presence of Charipinae can modify the biological control done by hymenopteran parasitoids of aphid pests in at least three ways: (i) increasing primary parasitoid mortality, (ii) increasing the growth rate of the aphid population indirectly and (iii) increasing the propensity for primary parasitoids to disperse (van Veen et al. 2001). For these reasons, studies on subfamily Charipinae are economic and biologically very important.