There’s More Than One Way to Decapitate An Ant

Tropical rainforests are home to lots of ants, which means that they’re home to lots of injured ants. Ant colonies frequently fight each other, leaving behind battlefields strewn with wounded workers.

That’s good news for phorid flies.

There are some 4,400 species of phorids. Although their lifestyles are diverse, a surprising number of them specialise in decapitating ants (or bees). The females lay their eggs inside their victims. When the maggots hatch, they move towards the ant’s head and eat its brain and other tissues. The brainless ant stumbles about in a fugue for weeks until its head eventually falls off. Sometimes, that’s because the fly has inflicted so ...

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