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Annu Rev Entomol. 2009;54:227-49. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.54.110807.090525.

Host-parasitoid associations in Strepsiptera.

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Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, United Kingdom.


Strepsiptera are obligate endoparasitoids that exhibit extreme sexual dimorphism and parasitize seven orders and 33 families of Insecta. The adult males and the first instar larvae in the Mengenillidia and Stylopidia are free-living, whereas the adult females in Mengenillidia are free-living but in the suborder Stylopidia they remain endoparasitic in the host. Parasitism occurs at the host larval/nymphal stage and continues in a mobile host until that host's adult stage. The life of the host is lengthened to allow the male strepsipteran to complete maturation and the viviparous female to release the first instar larvae when the next generation of the host's larvae/nymphs has been produced. The ability of strepsipterans to parasitize a wide range of hosts, in spite of being endoparasitoids, is perhaps due to their unique immune avoidance system. Aspects of virulence, heterotrophic heteronomy in the family Myrmecolacidae, cryptic species, genomics, immune response, and behavior of stylopized hosts are discussed in this chapter.

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