These little gnats may be tiny, but they call the largest trees in the world home. Two new species of fungus gnat were recently discovered in the giant sequoia, thanks to biologist Peter Kerr who set off to measure insect diversity in the forests of the Sierra Nevada and ended up with the surprising realization that two of the gnats nabbed were never before described.
Both in the genus Azana, these true flies are part of the family of gnats that depended on mushrooms in the forest for food. They lay their eggs on the underside of mushrooms so that the larvae have plenty of food when they hatch. Adult flies make filmy webs to catch tiny fungal spores that float on the wind, often on the bark of giant sequoias. Unlike relatives of these species that glow with bioluminescence, these gnats are relatively inconspicuous, but still make a tasty meal for salamanders, birds and other insects when they get caught.
Never a dull moment in the forest and I can’t wait to meet these gnats of the year!