Science

Fly with ‘bulging legs' has been named after Arnold Schwarzenegger

Meet Megapropodiphora arnoldi.

The world’s smallest fly species has been named after actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger because of its “bulging legs”.

The insect, called Megapropodiphora arnoldi, measures less than half a millimetre long and has large front legs compared to its four other limbs.

Dr Brian Brown, entomologist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, said: “As soon as I saw those bulging legs, I knew I had to name this one after Arnold.

Schwarzenegger pictured next to a drawing of Megapropodiphora arnoldi/
Schwarzenegger pictured next to a drawing of Megapropodiphora arnoldi (Wikimedia Commons/Tyler Hayden)

“Not only is he a major cultural icon and an important person in the political realm, his autobiography gave me some hope that I could improve my body as a skinny teenager.”

According to Dr Brown, the fly is a parasitoid, meaning its larvae live as parasites which eventually kill their hosts.

The fly is believed to use its sharp ovipositor – a tubular organ at its rear-end – to inject eggs into unsuspecting prey.

It lays its eggs in ants and termites which are then eaten by the hatching larvae.

A photomicrograph of the new species alongside a drawing
A photomicrograph of the new species alongside a drawing (Dr Brian Brown/I Strazhnik)

The new species, Dr Brown says, is now the world’s smallest known fly, measuring 0.395 millimetres long.

The previous record holder, a species discovered by Dr Brown six years ago in Thailand, is 0.400 mm in body length.

Dr Brown believes the flies “grab onto the hosts and hold on for dear life” until they reach a nest or colony where they can find their hosts more effectively.

The research is published in Biodiversity Data Journal.

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