Drhoz! (drhoz) wrote,

Squee! interesting parasitic wasp-mimicing mantis-analogue carnivores!

Word of the Day : Mantispid - aka mantisfly or mantidfly. a lacewing of the family Mantispidae. A small family of carnivorous insects, often vaguely resembling wasps, and parasitic upon spider eggs, bees hives, or wasp nests, when young.

I bring these to your attention because dalekboy photographed one on the way home from from Perth to Melbourne. He thought it was a praying mantis, but I was delighted to see it was infact something quite different!


Mantispids are especially fascinating not only because they exhibit convergent evolution on praying mantises here or because they they exhibit Batesian mimicry of wasps (here for pic) but also because the larvae are highly unusual parasites. Upon hatching the baby mantispids go hunting for a spider - often a wolf-spider (the ones that carry the egg sac on their back). If she's too young, they'll hang about in her lungs until she's ready to have babies, and drink her blood. They then climb onto her back, chew their way into the eggsac, and gorge themselves until they're ready to emerge. With other spiders they just look around for eggs that have already been laid, or wait on the mother spider sucking her blood, until she lays them somewhere. Other mantispids eat the larvae and pupae of bees and wasps, making them brood parasites as well.

Quite a few lacewing families have unusual lifecycles like that - the antlions, of course, are specialist ant predators. And the Sisyphid larva are aquatic parasites of freshwater sponges and bryozoans!

See also Wiki on Lacewings. Tree of Life has more photos, but alas not much info on them, or the other families of lacewing, such as the owlflies or Ascalaphidae. ( Danny has a photo of one of them in amonst his shot as well) In fact the amount of interwub info on the smaller families of lacewings seems to be very small indeed, which is a damn shame

Tags: blobs with no bones in, education even if you dont want it, parasites, word of the day
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