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I know there are a variety of wasps with various strategies for acquiring and controlling hosts. Do these form a rough picture of how these life cycles could have developed in the first place? What is the most recent speculation?

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This is similar to the seahorse problem, in that it requires a distinctly non-mammalian perspective. Parasitoid Wasps, Natural Enemies of Insects provides a more in-depth explanation.

Existing wasp strategies may illustrate the possible transitional forms. It is not a linear transition: all of these have branched off and there are multiple parasitic strategies.

  1. Solitary wasp, captures prey to feed to its larvae
  2. Ectoparasitoid wasp, which lays its egg directly on prey that is paralyzed or otherwise unable to resist as the larvae eats it alive
  3. Endoparasitoid wasp, which has formed a symbiotic relationship with a virus that disables the prey's immune system thus allowing eggs to be laid inside the prey
  4. Hyperparasitoid wasp, which preys on other parasitoid wasps
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  • $\begingroup$ This has the beginnings of a great answer, but needs a bit more detail before it answers the question fully. $\endgroup$ – arboviral Feb 6 '17 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @arboviral: Thank you for your comment. I was becoming peeved that my question would never be answered and all my google searches revealed expensive textbooks and papers behind paywalls. $\endgroup$ – Anonymous Feb 6 '17 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ No problem! If you need to get paywalled articles and are on Twitter you could try #icanhazpdf (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICanHazPDF). $\endgroup$ – arboviral Feb 7 '17 at 16:02

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