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We review the results of a series of experiments involving Aedes aegypti and its microsporidian parasite Vavraia culicis to illustrate how intra-specific competition and parasitism shape life history traits. More specifically these experiments showed that some major components of virulence are host condition-dependent in this system, while others are not. We also briefly discuss the ways through which V. culicis modifies the physiological functioning of its host. We discuss the implications of these results for studies of host – parasite interactions in general and propose ways through which our studies could contribute to vector control and management programs.