Closely related species in nature often show similarities in suites of direct and indirect traits that reveal aspects of their phylogenetic history. Here we tested how common descent affects trait evolution in several closely related parasitoid species in the genera Cotesia and Microplitis (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Microgastrinae) by comparing development, resource use and allocation into reproduction and maintenance. Parasitoids in these genera exhibit traits, like haemolymph feeding as larvae and external pupation that are rare in most parasitoid lineages. The growth of parasitized hosts was reduced by 90 % compared with healthy hosts, and maximum host size depended to a large extent on adult parasitoid size. Development time was longer in the more generalist parasitoids than in the specialists. Adult body mass was sexually dimorphic in all Cotesia species, with females being larger, but not in Microplitis spp. In contrast, in one of the Microplitis species males were found to be the larger sex. Egg load dynamics during the first 6 days after emergence were highly variable but egg number was typically higher in Cotesia spp. compared to Microplitis spp. Longevity in the various species was only greater in female than in male wasps in two Microplitis sp. There was a clear inverse relationship between resource use and allocation, e.g. maximum egg load and longevity, in these parasitoids. Our results reveal that adaptation to constraints imposed by host quality and availability has resulted in trait convergence and divergence at the species, genus and subfamily level. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.