Mysterious mantidfly

This month I’ve decided to share a new discovery made by my brother Wayne in his beautiful wildlife garden.  He found a very interesting insect sitting next to a chair inside his screened-in gazebo.

mantid fly pre-molt

We had never seen anything quite like it before.  The eyes looked like those of a lacewing, the forelegs resembled a mantis and the rear end looked rather grub-like.  So, Wayne posted the photo on his facebook page and requested help to identify his find.  A few hours later several entomologists agreed it looked like a mantidfly.  By then, the poor creature had keeled over, curled up a bit and looked very much like it had kicked the bucket.

mantid fly pre molt

What a bummer!  It would have been nice to see its final transformation.  But wait . . . later in the day Wayne checked one last time on his critter and found an empty shell.

mantid fly exoskeleton

The little guy, or gal, wasn’t dead after all . . . only resting while it completed the last stage of its metamorphosis.  The resulting adult mantidfly is really cool.  And check out that galaxy-eye!

mantid fly

A quick internet search revealed that the eggs of this species look like those of lacewings, and the larvae feed on spider eggs inside of the egg sac.  Here’s an incredible video showing the life cycle:  Mantidfly.  We find something new every year in our gardens.


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