Invader Invaded

Credit: Alex Wild

The red imported fire ant arrived in the southeastern United States from South America in the 1930s. It spread in the region, menacing farmers and bare feet alike. Scientists affiliated with the Department of Integrative Biology’s new Biodiversity Center imported phorid flies from South America, where they act as a biological control against fire ants. The researchers observed that the flies lay eggs in fire ant workers like this one. When the egg hatches, the fly larva feeds on the ant from within, eventually causing her to leave her colony and wander zombie-like away from the nest and die. 

View more compelling images like this one from entomology curator Alex Wild and his team of student photographers involved with UT Austin's Insects Unlocked project.

You can also see stunning video footage of the fly’s ant-attack below.