Fairy fly

By Grant Jacobs 22/05/2011

Alison has challenged me to another biological image duel.[1] Here’s my response:

Fairy fly. (Credit: Spike Walker. Source: Wellcome Images.)
Fairy fly. (Credit: Spike Walker. Source: Wellcome Images.)

Fairy flies are tiny wasps and we’re told include the smallest insects found with a length of 0.21mm for male Alaptus magnanimus. (The species in the image is Mymar pulchellus.)

In contrast to their romantic common name they are parasitoids, killing their hosts. Adult fairy flies lay their eggs in the eggs of other insects.

Fairy flies are found worldwide, including in New Zealand, either flying or under the surface of the water using it’s wings as paddles.

Wikipedia is best used as a starter source that should be independently verified–you can tell I’m short on time, right?–but let me list a few factoids from their fairy fly entry:

  • Fairyflies can be found at great altitude, their small size leading to easy dispersal by wind currents.
  • An individual of these genera of fairyflies can stay underwater for up to 15 days. To exit the water, they climb onto a the stem of a plant that breaks the surface.
  • There are 1401 species of fairyfly and 100 genera.
  • Fairyflies are difficult to collect, and thus, not surprisingly, little is known about them. This is an area of entomology where an amateur naturalist could make a significant difference.

The photographer, Spike Walker, has won many awards for his photomicrographs, including the one above.


[1] I invariably lose! 🙂 While I think this image is striking, I love what fluorescent images like the one Alison presented reveal. Fluorescent images literally show more than just the surface.

Other articles on Code for life:

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Doggie ERVs

Homeopathy – practical remedies to address it?

Keeping the serendipity

What is your relationship with your research notebook?

View the sun using the cross image fader

0 Responses to “Fairy fly”

  • Really cool wings. Don’t think I’ve ever seen those kind of paddles on animals. They look too delicate and feather-like to be paddles, but they must work. Would be cool to see them in action!

  • Not so beautiful when ur house,hair, body inside & out crawling with these demon parasite…Ive sprayed EVERYTHING they gone for a day or so then show right back up again…I feel like my insides are being torn apart….I feel like I might die & Nobody will ever know the reason…Im DIRT poor( litterally might have to eat DIRT for food soon)) so I sure as hell can’t get help…Im all alone in this…So when u see my OBITS U know what did it..All other female ( with eggs) should know this…IM hyper aware of my body, mind & enviroment..
    .Ive always seen things others way before others….imagine when these things start getting around all women will be left with no reproductive organ….Guess that’s one way of THINNING the herd….And wow men are safe….UMMM ……Where did these things originate from again????

    • Thanks for the update – seems that since I wrote my piece, a slightly smaller winged insect has been found. (Haven’t read the article [only the title & abstract] yet as I have limited internet access at the moment.)