I’m in the lab processing soil samples (i.e. grinding them up and passing them through a sieve to ensure that all the soil is of similar size….you can imagine my rapt attention). There’s this fly here, on my lab bench. I’ve heard it called a sausage fly. (It’s really an ant.) (Way to go with your bad self, sausage fly, breaking societal expectations of species norms.)
Okay but in all seriousness, WHAT IS HE DOING?
This is a male driver ant. Males grow to monstrous proportions when they hit sexual maturity, with their abdomen swelling to the size you see here (about half or more of its body length). Apparently, they strike out on their own at this time, and from thereon out their guiding principle is to find a queen driver ant to mate with. (Adolescent guys, right?) At night, they fly about, attracted to these queens’ pheromones. When a male is found by a colony, the colony tears off its wings and carries it back to the nest, where it mates with the queen…and soon after, dies.
What a violent way to go. I can see why this particular specimen seems stressed out about it. Clearly he took solace in the ethanol bottle, poor thing.*
* Sausage flies spin like that all the time around here. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re disoriented by the lights or hitting the ground. They’re blind and move primarily through their sense of smell, so I can’t imagine how weird it must be to fly into a lab, hit a desk lamp, and fall down next to poop samples and various strengths of ethanol. I’d probably run around in panicked circles too.