Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

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Strepsiptera (Insecta)


Caenocholax fenyesi Pierce sensu lato (Strepsiptera: Myrmecolacidae).
From Panama (on loan from Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County).
Photo by Steve Taylor, October 2005.


The Strepsitpera, or twisted-wing parasites, are a relatively obscure and certainly bizzare group of insects which parasitize other insects. While they may be attracted to lights, adult males are most commonly collected in malaise samples. Immatures, adult females, and male puparia are sometimes frequently encountered in appropriate hosts, such as some Hymenoptera, some Homoptera, and some Ensifera (Orthoptera), but also including other orders.


Charles Pekins and Jeyaraney Kathirithamby by a malaise trap in central Texas.
Photo by Steve Taylor, June 2005.


Jeyaraney Kathirithamby sorting malaise samples in search of Strepsiptera.
Photo by Steve Taylor, June 2005.


A phylogeny of Strepsiptera recently proposed by Pohl and Beutel (2005).


Selected Links

Strepsiptera in the Tree of Life project by Jeyarany Katherithamby
Strepsiptera Database by Jeyarany Katherithamby
Strepsiptera by Hans Pohl


Selected Literature

Bohart, R. M. 1941. A revision of the Strepsiptera with special reference to the species of North America. University of Californian Publications in Entomology 7:91-160.

Kathirithamby, J. 1989. Review of the order Strepsiptera. Systematic Entomology 41:42-91.

Kathirithamby, J. 1992. Strepsiptera of Panama and Mesoamerica. Chapter 27:421-431. In Q. Quintero and A. Aiello (eds.), Insects of Panama and Mesoamerica: Selected Studies. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Fauna 6:92-101.

Kathirithamby, J. and D. P. Hughes. 2002. Caenocholax fenyesi (Strepsiptera: Myrmecolacidae) parasitic in Camponotus planatus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Mexico: Is this the original host? Annals of the Entomological Society of America 95(5): 558-563.

Kathirithamby, J. and S. B. Peck. 1994. Strepsiptera of South Florida and the Bahamas with the description of a new genus and species of Corioxenidae. Canadian Entomologist 126:125-134.

Kathirithamby, J. and S. J. Taylor. 2005. A new species of Halictophagus (Insecta: Strepsiptera: Halictophagidae) from Texas, and a checklist of Strepsiptera from the United States and Canada. Zootaxa 1056:1-18.
View as PDF file (558 kb).

Pierce, W. D. 1908. A preliminary review of the classification of the order Strepsiptera. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 9:75-85.

Pierce, W. D. 1909. A monographic revision of the twisted winged insects comprising of the order Strepsiptera Kirby. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 66:1-232.

Pierce, W. D. 1918. The comparative morphology of the Strepsiptera together with records and descriptions of insects. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 54:391-501.

Pohl, H. and R. G. Beutel. 2005. The phylogeny of Strepsiptera (Hexapoda). Cladistics 21:328-374.


Polistes sp. with three adult female strepsipterans. Vero Beach, Florida, 9 November 2006.
Photo by Sean McCann.


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This page is maintained by Steve Taylor. Please email sjtaylor@inhs.uiuc.edu with comments and corrections.
Created 12 October 2005, last modified 25 October 2011.