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A New Species of Mantidfly (Mantispidae) for the Kingston Region

Authors:
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, Canada
The Blue Bill Volume 61, No. 3 Page 123
A New Species of Mantidfly (Mantispidae) for the Kingston
Region
Mike Burrell
Editors note: This article is a modified version of the web log published on 1
August 2014 at the Nomadic Naturalist (http://mikeburrell.blogspot.ca/) by the
author.
On 27 July 2014 I encountered a small,
plain-coloured Mantidfly (Order:
Neuroptera; Family: Mantispidae) on a
white cotton sheet that I had placed
below a black light. The black light had
been on the entire night previously for
the purpose of attracting nocturnal
moths. Having only seen a couple of
Mantidflies before, I carefully moved the
specimen to some vegetation where I
took several photos and a video
recording of it.
Figure 1: Dicromantispa sayi at Ida Hill,
Frontenac on 27 July 2014. Note the
unpatterned wings and smooth
pronotum
Figure 2: Close-up of Dicromantispa
sayi at Ida Hill, Frontenac on 27 July
2014. Note the smooth pronotum.
As you can tell, I was pretty excited to
find this Mantidfly. In my experience
they are a rarely seen insect, but very
interesting to see. Not only are they
bizarre-looking and generally rare or
uncommon, they've got a pretty
interesting life history as well. I didn't
know much about them before so did
some research and came across an
excellent paper by Rob and Syd Cannings
(Cannings and Cannings 2006). The
information presented here is gathered
from this paper.
Like many insects, Mantidflies are at the
northern edge of their range in Canada
with only four species in all of the country
(all of which are found in Ontario). Only
one species, Climaciella brunnea (the "Wasp
Mantidfly"), is relatively widespread. The
Wasp Mantidfly is, you guessed it, a wasp
Page 124 September 2014
mimic and is the only species I had seen
(twice) before in Ontario: one at Deloro,
Hastings County on 15 June 2008 and
another at Backus Woods, Norfolk County
on 3 July 2010 (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Wasp Mantidfly at Backus
Woods, Norfolk on 3 July 2010
The Wasp Mantidfly is not only the most
widespread species but the easiest to
identify. It's fairly large and its body is
striped brown and yellow similar to that
of many species of wasp. The other three
Canadian species look different from the
Wasp Mantidfly but are quite similar to
each other and require very good photos,
preferably showing close-ups of the
pronotum and the wings. This observation
is clearly one of the remaining three
species. On figure 2, the pronotum is
visibly smooth (lacks "numerous short
setae over its entire length") which means
it is one of the two Dicromantispa species.
The separation of those two species is
done by the presence/absence of dark
spots on the "wing tips and some cross
veins of radial cells", which this specimen
lacks. That puts the identification as
Dicromantispa sayi. This is exciting
because, according to the paper
referenced above, this would be a
(known) range extension for the species
in Ontario, which, based on examined
specimens, was restricted to the north
shore of Lake Erie. Rob Cannings (pers.
comm.) advised that there was a recent
(2013) record from near Tweed, Hastings
County, so this recent record is not
entirely unexpected.
As mentioned earlier, Mantidflies have a
fascinating life history. Their raptorial
forearms give them away as predators as
adults (feeding on a variety of other
insects). As larvae, most develop in
spider egg sacs where they feed busily on
the individual spider eggs. In some
species the larvae actively search out
spider eggs sacs, but in others they board
adult spiders and enter the egg sac
during the construction phase. The eggs
are stalked, similar to these Green
Lacewing (Chrysopidae) eggs (Figure 4)
Figure 4: Green Lacewing eggs at
Heidelberg, Regional Municipality of
Waterloo, 12 August 2005
References:
Cannings, R.A. and S.G. Cannings. 2006.
The Mantispidae (Insecta: Neuroptera) of
Canada, with notes on morphology,
ecology, and distribution. Canadian
Entomologist 138: 531-544.
Bug guide Mantidfly (Mantispidae) page:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/4796
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