Fire ants aren’t the only formicids that have to worry about parasitoid phorid flies. Many species are hosts to this diverse fly family.
Below are a pair of photos I took recently near Jujuy, Argentina showing a trio of an unidentified Pseudacteon species hovering over an ant nest. One of the flies hit her target, inserting her ovipositor between the ant’s abdominal sclerites.
I don’t say this about all my images, but these shots were truly lucky. The flies are much smaller (1mm) and more erratic than the phorids I posted previously. The oviposition itself took a fraction of a second, and I only realized I’d captured the event when reviewing the images later.
As it turns out, this particular ant (Linepithema oblongum) has never been recorded with phorids. So I’ll likely get a short paper out of this, too, in collaboration with the appropriate phorid experts.
Lens: Canon MP-E 1-5x macro lens
Body: Canon EOS 20D
Flash: Canon MT-24EX twin-flash, diffused through tracing paper
Settings: ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec