1. Although parasitoids are used widely as a biological models for understanding the evolution of animal behaviour, most studies have been constrained to the laboratory. The dearth of field studies has been compounded by the almost complete ignorance of the physiological parameters involved in foraging and dispersal, in particular of the energetic constraints imposed by resource limitation. 2. We estimated the dynamics of carbohydrates and lipids reserves of Venturia canescens (Gravenhorst) females by releasing individuals of known nutritional status in a natural environment and recapturing them using host-containing traps. The recapture rate was around 30%. These results were compared with the reserves of caged animals kept under different experimental conditions (freshly emerged, starved to death, fed ad libitum and partially starved). Wild animals were also sampled in order to estimate the resource levels of the local population. 3. The results show that: (i) wasps are able to maintain a nearly constant level of energy over an extended foraging period; (ii) V. canescens takes sugars in the field; and (iii) the lipid reserves accumulated during the larval life may be limiting as lipogenesis does not take place in adults even under conditions of high sugar availability. 4. These results demonstrate that wasps can forage for hosts and food and disperse in this habitat for hours and days without running into a severe risk of energy limitation.