A recently discovered G tridens fruitfly that has evolved a to have images of detailed, ant-like insects on each wing, complete with six legs, a thorax, antennae and a tapered abdomen. The fly uses the images defensively, waving them back and forth when threatened to create the illusion of massing ants. Many G Tridens varieties bear elaborate wing markings, but this one, discovered in Oman, is very striking. I think more beasties should have van-art bestowed on them by the strange world of evolution.
Dr Howarth first saw G tridens on an oleander shrub in northern Oman. "I was looking at the stem of the leaves and I noticed that there were some insects crawling around. When I sort of honed in I started to notice what I thought was a couple of ants moving around."
At first she suspected an infestation on the fly's wings. "But it was so symmetrical that I thought, 'oh this is not possible'. When I got it under the microscope I realised that these were insects painted onto the wings."
In contrast to its wings and brilliant green eyes, the fly's body is a dull greenish grey - "almost cryptically coloured," says Dr Howarth - that blends into the leaves where it is found.
When threatened, the fly flashes its wings to give the appearance of ants walking back and forth. The predator gets confused and the fly zips off.
Fruit fly with the wings of beauty [Anna Zacharias/The National]
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.