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Ovipositor of Long-horned Grasshopper (the two cerci are also visible)
Female Megarhyssa laying eggs with her ovipositor.
The process of oviposition in Dolichomitus imperator: 1 Tapping with her antennae the wasp listens for the vibrations that indicate a host is present; 2 With the longer ovipositor, the Wasp drills a hole through the bark; 3 The wasp inserts the ovipositor into the cavity which contains the host larva; 4 Making corrections; 5 Depositing eggs; 6 Depositing eggs.

The ovipositor is an organ used by some animals for the laying of eggs. It consists of a maximum of three pairs of appendages formed to transmit the egg, to prepare a place for it, and to place it properly. In some insects the organ is used merely to attach the egg to some surface, but in many parasitic species (primarily in wasps and other Hymenoptera) it is a piercing organ as well. It is used by grasshoppers to force a burrow in the earth to receive the eggs and by cicadas to pierce the wood of twigs for a similar purpose. Both long-horned grasshoppers and sawflies cut the tissues of plants by means of the ovipositor. In the wasp genus Megarhyssa, the females have a slender ovipositor (terebra) several inches long that is used to drill into the wood of tree trunks.[1] These species are parasitic in the larval stage on the larvae of horntail wasps, hence the egg must be deposited directly into the host's body as it is feeding.

The sting of Hymenoptera (wasps, hornets, bees, and some ants) is also an ovipositor, in this case highly modified and associated with venom glands that are used to paralyze prey. This would allow eggs to be laid without the host fighting back, and probably also to suppress the host's immune system so that it can not destroy the eggs or shake off the paralysis.[2] However, in virtually all stinging hymenopterans, the ovipositor is no longer used for egg-laying. An exception is in the family Chrysididae of Hymenoptera, where wasps like Chrysis ignita have reduced stinging apparatuses replaced by an ovipositor instead.

Some roach-like fish, such as bitterlings, have an ovipositor as a tubular extension of the genital orifice in the breeding season for depositing eggs in the mantle cavity of the pond mussel. Seahorses have an ovipositor serving a similar purpose.

Media depictions[edit]

The Alien queen in the film Aliens is shown suspended in her nest using a giant ovipositor to lay the alien eggs. Unlike most real-life examples of oviposition however, the ovipositor is shown to be detachable and capable of being regenerated.

The BBC documentary Walking with Dinosaurs portrayed a Diplodocus mother using an ovipositor to lay her eggs.[3]

In the Japanese kaiju film Gamera vs. Jiger, the titular adversary injects an egg into Gamera's living body with an ovipositor.

In Prometheus (2012 film), a British-American science fiction directed by Ridley Scott that is a loose prequel to his 1979 film Alien, when archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw is attacked by the "Engineer" (one of humanity's forerunners) she releases her alien offspring onto the Engineer and it thrusts an ovipositor down the Engineer's throat, subduing him.


  1. ^ Sezen, Uzay. "Two ichneumon wasps competing to oviposit". Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Evolution Makes Sense of Homologies". 
  3. ^ Webber, Roy P. (2004). The Dinosaur Films of Ray Harryhausen. McFarland & Company. p. 96. ISBN 0-7864-1666-1.