#Biodiversity150 number 83 of 150 Strepsiptera

83/150: Giving birth to live larvae through a hole in their head: The life cycle of the Twisted Wing Parasite

Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Strepsiptera: Elenchidae: Elenchus: Elenchus tenuicornis (Kirby, 1815)

The Strepsiptera, or “twisted wing parasites” is a small insect order consisting of about 600 species in 9 extant families. Hosts are typically Hymenopterans (bees & wasps), but also include Orthopterans (grasshoppers & crickets) and Hemipterans (stink bugs and leafhoppers). The biology of this parasitic group is fascinating, and unlike any other order of insects. Females in all but one family lack wings, eyes, legs and antennae, and spend almost their entire life between the plates (tergites) of the abdomens of their hosts. Males have one pair of wings, branched antennae and distinct blackberry-like eyes. After mating with winged males, females give birth to thousands of live larvae, which emerge from an opening on the head. Larvae actively seek out a host, enter via the abdomen and develop through several instars into adults. Males pupate and leave the host to find a mate, whereas females remain in the hosts body.  #Canada150 #Biodiversity150

Male Elenchus tenuicornis Specimen CNKTD3190-15, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Collected by P. Langan in July 2014. Malaise Trap Photo Credit: CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
Female Strepsiptera under the abdominal tergite of a Lasioglossum (Sweat bee). Photo Credit: maxson.erin goo.gl/Z44HLj

Here’s the barcode sequence information for this species:

Process ID: CNKTD3190-15

nucleotide sequence


amino acid sequence


Visual representation of DNA barcode sequence for Strepsiptera

Learn more about it’s BIN (Barcode Index Number): BOLD:ACH2899