March 3, 2012
Flying Jewels Spell Death For Baby Spiders
New species of parasitic spider flies discovered in Australia
Spider flies are a rarely collected group of insects. Adults are considered important pollinators of flowers, while larvae live as internal parasitoids of juvenile spiders. Eight genera are recorded in Australasia, including four genera in the subfamily Panopinae, a group of large, hairy, often metallic colored adults whose larvae specialize as parasitizing mygalomorph spiders such as tarantulas, trap door and funnel web spiders.
All species in Panops have larvae that internally parasitize spiders in Australia, such as the trap door spider and Sydney funnel web spider. In all known cases, only the juvenile spider is parasitized and the maggot may live inside the spider for years, prolonging the life of the spider and preventing it from developing into an adult. Eventually, the spider fly maggot will eat the spider from the inside out, leaving behind only the skin and will itself then pupate to develop into an adult.
Original source: Winterton SL (2012) Review of Australasian spider flies (Diptera, Acroceridae) with a revision of Panops Lamarck. ZooKeys 172: 7-75. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.172.1889
Image Caption: This is an adult spider fly (Panops jade) preserved specimen. Credit: Photograph by Shaun Winterton
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