Subject: Small fly with huge front legs
Location: Southwest Missouri
July 25, 2016 3:06 am
I’ve been searching to ID this bug and think it’s a type of fly. I have an interesting video of it working it’s front legs to stir up food. It was on a leaf blade that was floating in a pond. Thank you for helping!
Signature: Linda Bower
I found it – a Mantis Fly!
“I spent the summer traveling; I got halfway across my back yard.” – Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz
The trouble with common names in English is that they are not universal and many insects can have the same common name. The beauty of the binomial (Genus species) method of taxonomy is that it is universal, though not necessary permanent when reclassification happens, nor is it easy to learn because names are often in dead languages and often have consonants combined that we have never pronounced together before. The only insect we know with that common name “Mantis Fly” is a Neuropteran in the Family Mantispidae but the name Mantisfly is a compound word. See BugGuide for those Mantisflies. We did locate your insect on BugGuide classified as a Shore Fly in the genus Ochthera, subcategorized as being in the “mantis complex.” Nowhere on the genus page does BugGuide use the name Mantis Fly, however it is stated: “Adults feed on small insects, grasped and held with raptorial forelimbs, and take a variety of prey, including small flies and planthoppers (NC Insect Museum), and can excavate prey from soil using protibial spines; larvae prey primarily on the immature forms of Chironomidae.” At least one poster to BugGuide used the common name Mantis Fly, however it does not seem that the site editors of BugGuide recognize that designation. We are quite excited that your posting is allowing us to create a new page for the Shore Fly family Ephydridae that includes your fly’s genus Ochthera.
Daniel, thank you very much for the information. I’ve updated my postings on Facebook and YouTube. I completely understand what you mean about common names, but very difficult to do when self-taught! You may be interested in these three videos, not for identification, but for weird behavior that I’ve not found in any books or websites.
1) Fragile Forktail Damselfly adult attack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqhEDu0Jc-E
2) The attack in slow motion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPV961HDzpQ
3) Fragile Forktail larva attack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8SBXfCU8OA
I appreciate you and the BugGuide,