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Strepsiptera ~ Twisted-wing Parasites

These strange insects are rarely seen outside of their hosts. However, they can frequently be observed as they protrude from the abdomens of infected insects, most obviously wasps of the genus Polistes.

Adult, free-living males do not feed. Females are parasitic on their hosts, absorbing nutrients directly from the surrounding tissues. Larvae must also find hosts in order to survive.

Only males have wings. The first pair is reduced to slender clubs, while the second pair of wings are fanlike, and functional.

Development in this order is through hypermetamorphosis. After larvae hatch, they actively look for a host. Once they enter the host's body, they develop into legless grubs and feed internally on the host without killing it. They pupate between the abdominal segments of their hosts, with males leaving the host but females remaining inside.

Size is small.

Since the females are never observed directly, and the males are rarely seen, it would be difficult to make any identification below the family level.

These are the Families of Strepsiptera (twisted-wing parasites) likely to be encountered in Austin, Texas:

[twisted-wing parasites]

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