Milichia patrizii (ant-mugging fly)

Milichia patrizii is known as the ant-mugging fly because of the feeding behaviour of females of the species, which steal food from Crematogaster ants

The flies are found in:

  • Kenya
  • South Africa

Milichia patrizii was described by Willi Hennig (20 April 1913 - 5 November 1976), who is best known for developing phylogenetic systematics, a coherent theory of the investigation and presentation of the relations that exist among species.

Hennig was particularly interested in flies and wrote an important chapter about the family Milichiidae in 1937. Altogether Hennig described nearly 600 new fly species including 5 freeloader flies.

Species detail

Milichia patrizii females attack Crematogaster ants to obtain food:

  1. The fly grabs the tip of the ant's antenna with its own.
  2. This makes the ant stand still and allows the fly to trigger the ant's regurgitation response. 
  3. When the fly has been fed it releases the ant.
See the full illustrated story of an ant-mugging fly attack on the Photo Synthesis website
  • Male Milichia patrizii specimen
    Taxonomy

    Learn about the appearance of the ant-mugging fly, and find out about the wider fly family it belongs to.

Images

A Milichia patrizii fly stops a Crematogaster ant by grasping its antenna

A Milichia patrizii fly stops a Crematogaster ant by grasping its antenna. © Alex Wild

Milichia patrizii

The ant-mugging fly, Milichia patrizii, triggering a regurgitation response from a Crematogaster ant. © Alex Wild

Male Milichia patrizii specimen

Male Milichia patrizii specimen (photographed by Irina Brake)