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The ovipositor is an organ used by some of the arthropods to deposit their 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 of the insects the organ is used merely to attach the egg to some surface, but in many parasitic species (Hymenoptera, for example) it is a piercing organ as well. It is used by the 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 tissuess of plants by means of the ovipositor. None of these examples is quite as remarkable as the ichneumon flies (parasitic Hymenoptera) which have a slender ovipositor several inches long, used to drill into the wood of tree trunks. These species are parasitic in the larval stage on the larvae of wood-boring insects, hence the egg must be deposited in the burrow of the host.

The sting of wasps and bees is also an ovipositor, in this case highly modified and associated with poison glands. Some roach-like fish 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.