Question of the Day (31-May-19)
The larvae of all conopids are internal parasites, most of aculeate (stinging) Hymenoptera. Adult females aggressively intercept and deposit eggs on their hosts in-flight, and the female's abdomen is modified to form what amounts to a "can opener" to pry open the segments of the host's abdomen as the egg is inserted. The subfamily Stylogastrinae, including the genus Stylogaster, is somewhat different, in that the egg itself is shaped somewhat like a harpoon, with a rigid barbed tip, and the egg is forcibly jabbed into the host. Some species of Stylogaster are obligate associates of army ants, using the ants' raiding columns to flush out their prey. More research is needed to determine the life histories of most Conopids.
What is the function of the "can opener"?