Females of the genus might be the weirdest flies on earth. I don’t say this lightly. Like everyone else, I gazed in open mouth shock at the pictures in Naturewhen it was first described. The fly looks exactly like an ant larva with the head and thorax of a phorid fly glued onto it. And, oh yes, the wings and legs are absent!
Later, researchers published photos of these adult female flies being carried about by their host ants, apparently treated just like the ant larvae. And how did they know they were adult females, you might ask? Well, they published a photo of a slide mount of one of the flies with an egg coming out the end of the reproductive tract.
This is one of the wonders of the natural world, as far as I’m concerned. I have never seen one alive, but my colleagues Henry Disney and Munetoshi Maryama were kind enough to send me some specimens.
The flies are found in nests of the southeast Asian ant genus Aenictus, with specimens from Malaysia and Thailand having been recorded.