Fairyfly

Today I happened to see this article just as I was getting ready to try to photograph a “fairyfly” (Mymaridae) that had emerged from a Bidens alba (romerillo or common beggarticks) leaf I’d collected a few weeks ago.  Lacking a scanning electron microscope, I did the best I could, and of 124 photos taken in the course of 15 minutes, the four below were my favorites.  At half a millimeter long, this wasp is twice the size of the newly described Tinkerbella nana.  It is actually the second mymarid to emerge from that leaf, which I collected hoping to raise the leaf-mining agromyzid fly larvae it contained.  I’m not sure if any mymarids are known to parasitize leafminers; I had always heard that they are all egg parasitoids.  Scouring the leaf under a microscope failed to reveal whatever minute holes these wasps had emerged from.*

IMG_3989 IMG_4002 IMG_4041 IMG_4088

* Edit, 1/6/2015: John Huber at the Canadian National Collection just saw this post, and had this to say:

The genus shown is Anagrus and as far as is known all are parasitoids of eggs of Auchenorrhyncha, particularly leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). Likely there were some small eggs of some leafhopper imbedded in the leaves. It would be very unlikely, but not impossible, that the specimens emerged from eggs of Agromyzidae.

By the way, the article (Mind-blowingly small wasp) with the Tinkerbella nana image got the wrong photo. The SEM is actually that of Kikiki huna, which is smaller than Tinkerbella though somewhat similar in structure.

About Charley Eiseman

I am a freelance naturalist, endlessly fascinated by the interconnections of all the living and nonliving things around me. I am the lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), and continue to collect photographs and information on this subject. These days I am especially drawn to galls, leaf mines, and other plant-insect interactions.
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3 Responses to Fairyfly

  1. troymullens says:

    Incredible photos.

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