While little is known about Euryplatea nanaknihali, some believe it lays its eggs in ants’ bodies, where the larvae munch on the insects’ head muscles until the head eventually falls off.
That’s how its larger African relative reproduces, with the larvae feeding from the ants’ head muscle tissue.
The diminutive insect is smaller than a grain of salt, making it half the size of the smallest “no see-ums.”
Its pointy abdomen appears to be well adapted to pierce an ant’s body for egg-laying purposes.
The fly was discovered during a survey conducted by more than 100 scientists around the world, involved in the Thailand Inventory Group for Entomological Research.
The discovery, made by Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County curator of entomology Brian Brown, was reported in the July issue of the journal Annals of the Entomological Society of America.
“People are so obsessed with dinosaurs and elephants,” said Brown, “they forget that the small things are out there.”
Graphic: Inna-Marie Strazhnik