Slow Death from the Skies: Phorids and Ants (part 2)

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.

Technical details:

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

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Absolutely amazing. Its hard enough to visualise these things by eye! Glad you`ll be getting a paper out of it.

You say you were lucky... but as Gary Player memorably said: "the harder I practise, the luckier I get"!

Luck nothing, you got that because you put yourself in the right place at the right time with the right equipment set up right.

Well done!

Absolutely incredible shots Alex! You are the master! Regarding luck, remember "Chance favors the prepared mind."

By Henry W. Robison (not verified) on 14 Apr 2009 #permalink