Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

After plenty of head-scratching and squinting at what wasn’t a very clear image, the commentariat mostly converged on the idea that the mystery interloper in the army ant columns was a diapriid wasp.

Do you see it now? (100% crop of original photo)

And they were right.

Ten points go to Josh King, who got there first, and 5 more to Terry Nunn for taking it down to subfamily. And two consolation points to Matt Y, for linking us to Diapriid keys.

6 thoughts on “Answer to the Monday Night Mystery”

  1. Incidentally, I wish I’d collected the wasps. But, I didn’t notice them (there are 2 in the photo) until I started processing the images two weeks later.

  2. I was wondering if you had taken any or not. When I looked into the Phoridae the species Borgmeieriphora greigae is only known from a single female specimen collected amongst a raid of E. hamatum!

  3. I’m not sure if this was ever mentioned, but what are these parasitic wasps doing running in the columns of a specialized army ant?

    1. Points, w00t! The first ones are “free”. Diapriids are primarily parasitoids of flies, and some beetles, but have recently been confirmed to also parasitize ants. A fairly comprehensive list of hosts is available at http://diapriid.org/projects/4/public/association/browse. The thought is that they evolved an association with ants, first through flies associated with refuse piles or some other ant-related resource, then “moved” on to the ants themselves. They have independently evolved relationships with ants in 3 of the 4 subfamilies, and some exhibit some truly amazing adaptive(?) morphology.

      1. Thanks for your comments, Matt. Do you think these wasps are using the army ants to gain access to the raided prey colonies? It seems to me that if the wasps were parasitizing the army ants themselves they’d hang around the bivouacs instead of the raid fronts.

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