PHOTOS: "Zombie" Ants Controlled, Decapitated by Flies

PHOTOS: ''Zombie'' Ants Controlled, Decapitated by Flies
<< Previous   2 of 5   Next >>
Eventually the phorid fly maggot injected into an ant decapitates its host (pictured in a file photo) and use its hollowed-out head as a place to develop into a pupa, an intermediate stage between larva and adult fly.

Just before that, the maggot appears to control the ant's behavior, directing it to a moist, leafy place where it can emerge away from other ants that would attack.

"Not only is [the fly maggot] decapitating it, but it turns the ant into a zombie," said Sanford Porter, a research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

(See more ant photos in National Geographic magazine.)

To control a fire ant invasion in the southern U.S., scientists have been releasing phorid flies into ant-infested habitats for more than a decade. Recently, Texas scientists let loose a new species of fly in Texas, which will ideally work in concert with the existing phorid species to kill a greater number the fire ants.

"It certainly adds to the diversity of the impact," Porter said.
—Photograph courtesy Sanford D. Porter, USDA
 
NEWS FEEDS    After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed. After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS




 

50 Drives of a Lifetime

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.