Mantidfly – Looks Like Praying Mantis And Wasp. Insects aren’t the easiest animals to identify. Sometimes, we misidentify robber flies as bees and damselflies as dragonflies. Even professional entomologists (scientists who study bugs) can become stumped when attempting to identify similar species.
Yet, there is one family of insects that might be among the most perplexing, and at first, you might not even think they’re real.
These insects are the matidflies, which are in the family Mantispidae. Take a look at one below. Does that look like a wasp to you?
If you said, “Yes,” you are not incorrect, since it does, indeed, look like a wasp. It has all of the features of a wasp from the wasp like head to black and yellow stripes to the bulbous thorax. Even the wings look wasp like. Yet, this insect isn’t a wasp. Let’s have a side profile view.
Now, it looks less like a wasp and more like a praying mantis. It has the head of a praying mantis and the raptorial front legs of one as well. It even captures flies and other small insects with its front legs and eats them just like a praying mantis. But it is not a praying mantis either.
In fact, while mantidflies look like a cross between a wasp and a praying mantis, they are not even related to either group of insects. Instead, they are in the order Neuroptera, which consists of insects called lacewings or net wings.
To see a mantidfly in action, watch the video below. You will see just how much this weird critter resembles wasps and mantises in appearance and behavior.
About 5–47 mm (0.20–1.85 in) long and with a wingspan of 5–30 mm (0.2–1.2 in), some mantidflies such as Climaciella brunnea, Euclimacia nodosa are wasp mimics, but most are brownish with green, yellow and sometimes red hues. The vernacular and scientific names are derived from their mantis-like appearance, as their spiny “raptorial” front legs are modified to catch small insect prey and are very similar to the front legs of mantids (the only difference is that the pincers lack footpads and are not used for walking at all).