Some creatures have tendrils, which they will parasitically insert into another living creature. I'm looking for the work that would complete this sentence:

"The parasitic bug ____ its tendrils into the elephant"

(N.B. I am not a biologist; my apologies if this kind of situation does not arise in nature)

Words that I have used instead, but don't quite seem to be right:

  • Extended
  • Embedded
  • Inserted

All of these imply some kind of penetration, but none have the inflection of parasitism.

Is there a word for what I am looking for?


  • Another potentially word is infiltrate. Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 16:23
  • Creatures don't have tendrils. Plants have tendrils.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 17:44

2 Answers 2


The verb to invade seems to be the word you're looking for:

1.2 (of a parasite or disease) spread into (an organism or bodily part)

‘sometimes the worms invade the central nervous system’

The verb to irrupt is also a good choice:

2 of a natural population: to undergo a sudden upsurge in numbers especially when natural ecological balances and checks are disturbed

(A natural population applies, I think, to parasites, as well).

And to infest seems to be another good choice, and also more technical than the other two:

2 (of parasites such as lice) to invade and live on or in (a host)

  • 2
    Invade works perfectly. Also, irrupt seems to be a handy word worth knowing about. Thanks!
    – Mahkoe
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 15:10

You could try Injected

  1. introduce (something) under pressure into a passage, cavity, or solid material.

The parasitic bug injected its tendrils into the elephant

Another option is Pierce

The parasitic bug's tendrils pierced into the elephant

  • 3
    Your usage of pierce is incorrect. It should say "The parasitic bug's tendrils pierced the elephant['s skin]". Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 14:45
  • Yes you are correct .. will edit my answer
    – Bharath
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 17:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.