© Inna-Marie Strazhnik;(inset) S.D. Porter/ARS/USDA

ScienceShot: The World's Tiniest Fly

With a knack for decapitation, Phoridae are the mobsters of the ant world. This family of flies deposits its eggs in an ant's body, and when the eggs become larvae they feed on the ant's head, eventually causing it to fall off (inset). Now, researchers have tracked down a member of Phoridae so wee it would be dwarfed by a fleck of pepper. At just 0.4 mm, Euryplatea nanaknihali (main picture) is the tiniest fly ever reported—15 times smaller than a house fly and five times smaller than a fruit fly. It's also, despite its stature, equally as capable of removing the head of very tiny ants, the team reports online today in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. So try to stay on its good side.

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Posted in Plants & Animals