The myrmecophile larva of the dipteran taxon Nothomicrodon Wheeler is rediscovered, almost a century after its original description and unique report. The systematic position of this dipteran has remained enigmatic due to the absence of reared imagos to confirm indentity. We also failed to rear imagos, but we scrutinized entire nests of the Brazilian arboreal dolichoderine ant Azteca chartifex which, combined with morphological and molecular studies, enabled us to establish beyond doubt that Nothomicrodon belongs to the Phoridae (Insecta: Diptera), not the Syrphidae where it was first placed, and that the species we studied is an endoparasitoid of the larvae of A. chartifex, exclusively attacking sexual female (gyne) larvae. Northomicrodon parasitism can exert high fitness costs to a host colony. Our discovery adds one more case to the growing number of phorid taxa known to parasitize ant larvae and suggests that many others remain to be discovered. Our findings and literature review confirm that the Phoridae is the only taxon known that parasitizes both adults and the immature stages of different castes of ants, thus threatening ants on all fronts.
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National Museums Scotland
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Nature Publishing Group
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