A research group led by University of Rochester, New York, biology professor John Werren sequenced the genomes of three species of the tiny Nasonia wasp.
Its findings will help increase the usefulness of the parasitoids as pest insect-control agents by providing information about which insects they will attack, their dietary needs and how their venoms work.
"If it weren't for parasitoids and other natural enemies, we would be knee-deep in pest insects," said Werren. "Emerging from these genome studies are a lot of opportunities for exploiting Nasonia."
By one estimate, parasitoid wasps already save the US economy at least $20bn a year by controlling invasive pests.