Masquerading as self? Endoparasitic Strepsiptera (Insecta) enclose themselves in host-derived epidermal bag. Academic Article uri icon


  • We report here the case of a metazoan parasite, a strepsipteran, that manipulates host epidermal tissue and wraps itself within it; which probably camouflages the endoparasite and is recognized as "self" by the host. This mechanism is one of immune avoidance among parasitoid insects. The host-derived epidermal "bag" might have enabled Strepsiptera to radiate to disparate hosts compared with the relatively few taxa (596 species) described so far. They have been recorded as parasitizing 34 families belonging to seven orders of Insecta. We also report a mechanism of insect ecdysis between the first- and second-instar larva, while enclosed in the bag.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

altmetric score

  • 22.784

author list (cited authors)

  • Kathirithamby, J., Ross, L. D., & Johnston, J. S.

citation count

  • 33

complete list of authors

  • Kathirithamby, Jeyaraney||Ross, Larry D||Johnston, J Spencer

publication date

  • June 2003