World’s smallest fly that preys on small ants discovered

The world’s smallest fly is discovered in Thailand and it is five times smaller than the fruit fly and tinier than a grain of salt measuring about 0.4 millimeters in length. This small fly is so tiny that it can easily sit comfortably on the eye of a common house fly. This fly was collected during the TIGER (Thailand Inventory Group for Entomological Research) project funded by the National Foundation in Kaeng Krachan National Park – Thailand and is the first of its kind discovered in Asia.

This small fly belongs to the family of Phiorade and is known to be one of the ant decapitating flies. The adult female flies of this group lay eggs inside the body of an ant and when the eggs develop into larva they migrate to the ant’s head where they devour on the huge muscles of the ant whose function is to open and close the ant’s mouthparts. Finally, the larvae eats up the ants brain as well causing the ant to wander without any aim for about two weeks and then the head of the ant falls off after the fly larvae dissolves the membrane that keeps it attached. For another two weeks, the fly uses the decapitated head of the ant as its residence before hatching out as a full grown adult fly.      

This smallest fly has been discovered by Brian Brown from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and his discovery came through a project that aimed to catalogue new species of Thai insects. Brown is sure that his discovery is a parasite. The abdomen of this fly end in a hard, pointed egg laying structure which it uses to pierce the weak membranes of its host between their armored plates. It is only an assumption that this fly has a parasitic behavior as no one has actually witnesses the fly’s parasitic behavior, since only a few specimens have been found.

 

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