fairyfly

Habitus drawing of holotype female (SEMC F001019) of Borneomymar pankowskiorum, new species.

Abstract. A new fossil species of fairyfly (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Mymaridae) is described and figured from a well-preserved female in middle Eocene (Lutetian) Baltic amber as Borneomymar pankowskiorum Engel, McKellar, & Huber, new species. This species represents the fourth genus from Baltic amber whose extant species now occur only in southeastern Asia, Australia, and Madagascar.

A fossil species of the primitive mymarid genus Borneomymar (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae) in Eocene Baltic amber

Michael S. Engel, Ryan C. McKellar & John T. Huber. Novitates Paleoentomologicae No. 5, pp. 1–8 6 December 2013 (Open Access)

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Insects who fly on Wings of a Feather!

Fairyflies are the smallest insects in the world. They’re wasps who lay their eggs inside the eggs of other insects, providing their young with food.

Feather-winged Beetles are the tiniest beetles. They eat fungus and their miniature wingcases hide their splendid feather-wings.

Thrips are another tiny insect who use their piercing mouthparts to suck out the innards of plants, pollen and fungal spores.

Finally a Many-plumed Moth! Each wing is transformed into a whole collection of tiny feathers, adding up to about 20 in total.

I guess birds are just inefficient..

Bug Stats:  Smallest Insect

The cutely named Fairyflyis a type of parasitic wasp that is so small it can only properly be seen under a microscope. 

*more info- “Based on overall length, the smallest adult insect is a parasitic wasp, Dicopomorpha echmepterygis (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae). Males of this species are blind and wingless and measure only 139 µm in length. This newly described species recently replaced Megaphragma caribea (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae), which measures 170 µm, as the smallest adult insect.”-site

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Dicopomorpha echmepterygis

…is a very small species of fairyfly (a family of parasitic wasps) that is endemic to Costa Rica. Like other fairyflies D. echmepterygis is a parasitoid, and parasitises the eggs of a barklouse Echmepteryx hageni. Adults will mate inside their eggs and will die without ever leaving the egg.

Male D. echmepterygis are the smallest known species of insects reaching an astoundingly small length of 139μm (0.139 mm). Which is smaller than some paramecium! Females are 40% larger and like the males they are blind and wingless.

Classification

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Hymenoptera-Apocrita-Chalcidoidea-Mymaridae-Dicopomorpha-D. echmepterygis

Images: John S. Noyes and Unkown

This is a fairy wasp, alongside an amoeba and a paramecium.

Fairy wasps shrink to the size of amoeba by sacrificing their neurons.

Fairy wasps are some of the tiniest creatures on Earth, an entire insect roughly the size of a single-celled organism like an amoeba. That means their individual cells must be incredibly tiny…and that requires losing much of their nervous system.

The fairy wasp, otherwise known as the fairyfly, is a parasitic insect that can measure as little as 200 micrometers long, making it roughly the size of unicellular organisms like amoebas or paramecia. Of course, this insect isn’t a one-celled organism, which means its thousands of individual cells have to be shrunk down to unbelievably small sizes.

The fairy wasp’s tininess has its uses - it’s able to avoid most predators and invade other insects’ eggs undetected. But there’s a pretty hefty trade-off for the creatures’ biology, according to new research from Alexey A. Polilov of Russia’s Lomonosov Moscow State University. He discovered that as much as 95% of neurons in adult fairy wasps don’t have a nucleus.

That’s surprising, considering a nucleus is generally considered a pretty crucial part of a cell, particularly since it contains the cell’s genetic material. And while baby fairy wasps do feature a full set of nuclei in their neurons, they lose them as they grow older.

This sacrifice is apparently what allows fairy wasps to remain so ridiculously tiny, and losing so many seemingly crucial nuclei doesn’t actually matter all that much, considering fairy wasps are still able to do all their complicated behaviors, like flying around and invading other eggs. It almost makes you wonder why us bigger species still bother with all these cellular extravagances… you know, like fully functioning neurons.

Article

Video from David Attenborough

smart-tart13 replied to your post: smart-tart13 replied to your post: smart-tart13…

You never cease to make me feel like a pretty little fairyfly (butterfly + fairy). And I give you permission to go spread me all over the place!!! Lol, that sounds sexual :^P

FAIRYFLY!!! Oh you are my best friend. No arguements allowed. It has happened. And do I have a amazing butterfly gifs. Yes I fucking do.

And it wasn’t sexual! You will def know when I am being sexual haha

And that is from Best In Show, a movie you should 100% watch!

Wild Things: The Most Disconcerting Animal That Lives In Your Home

According to a study published last week, your house could be home to more than 500 different kinds of insects, spiders, and other arthropods. That means jumping bristletails, firebrats, and minute pirate bugs. We’re talking about bark lice, fairyflies, and death watch beetles.

What, you’ve never heard of root maggot flies? Too bad, 10 percent of the homes sampled have them. Fungus gnats? Found in 68 percent of homes. Spitting spiders? Yeah, they’re around. And you can forget about asking them to chip in for rent.

But of all the creepy crawlies possibly crashing at your home as we speak, perhaps none is more disconcerting than the downright dastardly-looking pseudoscorpion.

Like mites, spiders, and true scorpions, the pseudoscorpions are arachnids. They have eight legs, two claws, and ticklike bodies. The good news is that they differ from their kissing cousins in one main respect—they lack a tail and the stinger that goes with it. The bad news is some species have venom glands in their claws.

Pseudoscorpions were found in 20 percent of homes in the new study, by the way. So if we can apply the findings to America at large, your odds of cohabitating with a pseudoscorpion are at least 1 in 5. Probably higher, though. Pseudoscorpions are sneaky, so the researchers probably missed quite a few of them.

Now, before you go reaching for the Kill It With Fire button, there are some things you should know about your new arachnid roommates. For starters, says Matt Bertone, an entomologist at North Carolina State University and lead author of the new study, pseudoscorpions, venom glands and all, are completely harmless to humans.

They’re too small to do any harm, to start with—a few millimeters to less than a centimeter long, says Bertone, who found his first pseudoscorpion hiding in a washcloth in his parents’ bathroom when he was young. (He shooed the arachnid into a peanut butter jar and named it Skippy.)

Now, things might be different if you were ever to find yourself in a Honey, I Shrunk the Kidstype situation. That’s because some pseudoscorpion species hunt in packs, taking down beetles and millipedes up to 30 times their size. Tiny legions have even been seen attacking and dismembering Cephalotes atratus, a tropical ant with few natural predators and armor like a shiny, black tank. Adult pseudoscorpions line up along the entrance to their colony, according to one study, “to form a nearly continuous battery of chelae,” or claws. Then, when an ant comes close, the pseudoscorpions lunge forward and grab its legs with their pincers, then quickly retreat—pinning the prey against the opening of the pseudoscorpion colony. Now that the ant is immobilized, nymphs emerge from the colony and start sawing at its joints. Every armor has its weakness.

And did I mention that pseudoscorpions can fly? I mean, not technically—they don’t have wings or anything. But they can use their claws like grappling hooks to attach themselves to creatures that do. Birds and insects are their primary flight vectors, which is why even if you’re in the middle of the Pacific on a deserted island, you’re probably still surrounded by pseudoscorpions.

What’s wild about pseudoscorpion hitchhiking is that it isn’t just an accident. They don’t simply climb onto a beetle and then say, Whoa, this thing’s moving! like that spider on your windshield. No, pseudoscorpions seek out aerial transport, or phoresy. Because of their size, it’s basically the only way for them to get to new habitats.

In fact, phoresy is so crucial to the life cycle of some pseudoscorpion species that courtship and mating take place on the beetle. This has been documented in the giant harlequin beetles, which have been seen carrying up to 30 pseudoscorpions at a time. (Can somebody please get video of this and set it to Ride of the Valkyries?)

You know how rams butt heads to determine who will get breeding rights to all the females? Well, pseudoscorpions do the same thing. Only it’s a royal rumble on the belly of a beetle. In midair. With the losers often tossed overboard. And the last pair of pincers earns himself an orgy.

Of course, pseudoscorpion sex isn’t all that sexy. The males deposit a packet of sperm and protein called a spermataphore, and then dance around it until a female becomes interested. Sometimes the male will even hold her hand-claw and sort of tug her over toward the spermatophore. If she acquiesces, she’ll sit on the packet and absorb some of the genetic material for the next generation.

At least, that’s the way the big, bruiser males want it to go. But like squid, orangutans, and many other species, there’s a way for smaller, weaker, “sneaker” males to pass on their genes even if they get booted from the beetle like it was Air Force One. That’s because neither pseudoscorpion males nor females are monogamous. And the females are capable of storing sperm from multiple males, so even if a pipsqueak pseudoscorpion isn’t her first, her last, or her only, his DNA could turn into more arachnids wherever the harlequin lands.

This is particularly good news for them, because there’s some evidence to suggest that pseudoscorpions can suffer from genetic incompatibility. This means that for some reason, certain sets of DNA just will never be able to make a baby pseudoscorpion. Other research has found that females actively seek out new mates and will eschew the advances of males they’ve already done the beetle dance with—perhaps as a way to ensure that they don’t get stuck with a single male with DNA they can’t do anything with. (For more on all of this, check out Olivia Judson’s excellent book, Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation.)

I think sometimes we get so caught up with dumbo octopuses, honey badgers, and other exotic animals that we forget about the biodiversity in our own backyards.

And you better believe you have pseudoscorpions in your backyard. Lauren Esposito, curator of arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences, says she puts the chances of backyard pseudoscorpions—unless you live in Antarctica—at about 100 percent.

“You should go pull apart an old log or peel some bark off a tree and chances are you’ll find some,” says Esposito, who was not involved in the study. “Most people have just never looked.”

Inside your home, pseudoscorpions may actually qualify as friends with benefits. That’s because the most common species, Chelifer cancroides, has earned a reputation as a voracious predator of book lice and springtails—small creatures known for gnawing through old books. According to Julia Cosgrove, a Ph.D. student at Harvard, Aristotle first recorded these little buggers crawling around on his scrolls.

But books and scrolls aren’t the only household items protected by household arachnids. Some species have been known to prey upon mites and moth larvae.

“Dust mites have been attributed to allergies, and moth larvae eat your clothes, so it’s probably not a bad thing to cultivate some predatory pseudoscorpions in your home,” says Esposito.

But it could be even more than that, says Michelle Trautwein, an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences and a co-author on the new domestic arthropods study. Because a survey like this has never been done before, we’re only just scratching the surface on the potential impacts the little critters might have on our lives.

“When we think about these unexplored ecosystems on the planet, we think about things like the rainforest or the bottom of the ocean floor,” says Trautwein, “but the truth is, our houses, to some degree, are these relatively new ecosystems, evolutionarily speaking. And they’re totally unexplored.”

For instance, just as a harlequin beetle may harbor a bevy of pseudoscorpions, those stowaways likely have stowaways of their own—be they mites or microbes. Who knows, the bacteria carried by pseuodscorpions could have some effect on the microbial biodiversity of our homes with as-of-yet unstudied impacts on human health. We simply don’t know.  

The point is, even if you’re squeamish about sharing your home with more than 500 kinds of arthropod—some of them pseudoscorpions—studies have shown that living with biodiversity is usually a good thing for human health. And besides, if a book scorpion is up on your shelf murdering all the lice you didn’t know you had, what do you care?

I’ll leave you with a final pseudoscorpion fact that will either win you over or lose you completely. All species of pseudoscorpion that we’ve studied have shown some sort of parenting. Sometimes that’s just mom attaching her sac of eggs to her abdomen and cleaning and protecting the embryos. Other times, it involves the mother pseudoscorpion spinning a silk chamber for the eggs to rest in.

And sometimes, when food is short and the nymphs are hangry, the mother pseudoscorpion will simply allow her young to devour her alive. She doesn’t even put up a fight. This is called matrophagy.

Is matrophagy evidence that pseudoscorpions are tender creatures, capable of the greatest bodily sacrifice in the care of their young? Or is it proof that these animals are stone cold minimonsters—be-clawed hell-beasts prowling about your bookshelf?

The answer, of course, is a matter of perspective.

Thanks to entomologist Everton Tizo-Pedroso for his help on this piece and for his work investigating the fabulously complex lives of these tiny book monsters.

from Wild Things http://www.slate.com/blogs/wild_things/2016/01/26/insects_spiders_pseudoscorpions_and_arthropods_in_homes.html
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