Impurest's Guide to Animals #48 - Wasp Mantidlfy

Well we're ripping through the month of January, with such joys of Burns Night and the Chinese New Year (AKA February) coming up fast. Last week the elite tactician known as the Tentacled Snake showed us all the best way to catch a fish. This week’s creature is also a merciless predator, with an added vampiric side as well. Hope you guys enjoy.

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Issue #48 - Wasp Mantidfly

[1]
[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Arthropoda

Class – Insecta

Order – Neuroptera

Family – Mantispidae

Genus – Climacella

Species – brunnea

Related Species - Despite having features of Wasps and Preying Mantises, the Wasp Mantidfly is most closely related to Lacewings and Ant Lions (1)

Range

Wasp Mantidflies are found in the shaded states and provinces [2]
Wasp Mantidflies are found in the shaded states and provinces [2]

Part Mantis, Part Wasp, All Killer

The Wasp Mantidfly is a small insect with a wingspan of about an inch and a brown body with yellow bands that grows up to four centimetres in length. These markings mimic those of the venomous Paper Wasps (Polistes sp) in order to appear more dangerous to predators then it actually is. The Mantidfly is a deadly predator itself, using the large ‘raptorial limbs’ to catch and subdue smaller insects. In addition the adults also take nectar while waiting for a more substantial meal to come into range (2). Adult Mantidflies are short lived, usually appearing as adults in the summer months and mating somewhere between May and July.

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[3]

While the adults are deadly predators in their own right, the larvae of the Wasp Mantidfly are even more devious. Upon hatching the larva drop to the floor and wait for a Wolf Spider or other hunting species to walk past, before quickly latching onto the arachnid where it remains unnoticed by its new host. In this stage the larvae is parasitic, feeding on enough of the spider’s blood to sustain itself without effecting the spider’s strength or speed. The larvaes goal is to eventually attach to a female spider, and will switch hosts if attached to the wrong gender while the spider’s mate or the female cannibalises the male (3).

Once attached to the spider the Mantidfly larvae waits until she starts to spin an egg sac, and will crawl inside before construction is complete. Once inside the Mantidfly consumes the spider’s eggs and newly hatched larvae, whilst receiving the protection of a spider silk cocoon. Once ready to pupate the Mantidfly spins a second layer of silk and undergoes metamorphosis, emerging as an adult around a year later.

Five Fun Wasp Mantidfly Facts

Hunting Spiders are not the only victims of Mantidfly larvae. Some species parasite Wasps, Bees and Beetles in addition to arachnids.

Some Mantidfly larvae prefer to stay inside the spider to reduce the chance of being knocked off as it moves. As such they slip inside the arachnids ‘book lung’ until it’s time for its host to mate

This behaviour isn't new. A recent fossilised piece of amber, aged around 44 million years, shows a Mantidfly larvae caught as it boarded a spider before both were entombed in tree sap (4)

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[4]

The oldest fossilised Mantidfly (of which there are 10) dates back to the Jurassic Period

Mantidflies, like their relatives the Lacewings and Ant Lions, are very clumsy fliers

Bibliography

1 - www.arkive.org

2 - Cannings R.A., Cannings S.G. (2006) The Mantispidae (Insecta: Neuroptera) of Canada, with notes on morphology, ecology, and distribution

3 - http://thesmallermajority.com/2012/12/13/mantidflies/

4 - http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/03/28/spider-boarding-insect-preserved-in-amber/#.VLOocdKsXE0

Picture References

1 - http://bogleech.com/nature/sitoid-mantidfly.jpg

2 - http://bugguide.net/maps/maps/4825.png

3 - http://www.michigannatureguy.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Mantid-Fly.jpg

4 - http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/files/2011/03/Mantidfly_amber_spider.jpg

Ouch poor spiders, still as we leave the Mantidfly behind we can rest knowing that after next week’s issue (which is full of sarcasm) we can get to the requests of @ostyo, @johnjo719 and an archived request from @laflux . Until then critic, comment, suggest a new species to cover and check out past issues using Impurest’s Bestiary.

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese

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