The mantisfly, a fascinating and unusual insect, has captured the attention of many due to its unique appearance. Resembling a combination of a lacewing insect and a praying mantis, mantidflies stand out with their intricately veined wings and raptorial forelegs, used for grasping prey. These small, delicate creatures are an intriguing mix, offering a captivating insight into the diversity of the insect world.
Although mantidflies may appear similar to both praying mantises and paper wasps, they are neither wasp nor mantis. They belong to the order Neuroptera, and, unlike their mimicked counterparts, mantidflies are not considered dangerous to humans. Their coloring and physical characteristics serve as a form of mimicry to intimidate predators and efficiently capture small insects for sustenance.
Mantidflies come in various species, each with its unique features and habitat preferences. For example, the Wasp Mantidfly (Climaciella brunnea) displays yellow and brown stripes and mimics the appearance of a paper wasp. This impressive adaptability and survival instinct make mantidflies a species worth exploring and appreciating within the vast realm of entomology.
Classification and Distribution
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Hexapoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Neuroptera
- Suborder: Hemerobiiformia
- Family: Mantispidae
These insects can be found across North America, with some species inhabiting other regions worldwide.
Physical Appearance and Size
Mantisflies exhibit a combination of features from different insects:
- Body shape resembling a mantis
- Two pairs of wings like lacewings
- Long, slender body
Adult mantisflies can grow up to 0.5-2 inches in length, depending on the species. Their coloration varies, but many species have striking patterns and colors.
Mantisflies are predaceous arthropods that feed on small insects. Key features of their predatory behavior include:
- Raptorial front legs similar to praying mantises, used for grasping prey
- Elongated thorax that allows for quick striking
Some species of mantisflies are known to prey on spiders and their egg sacs.
Species of Mantisflies
There are over 400 different species of mantisflies. A few examples include:
- Climaciella brunnea – known for its striking wasp-like appearance
- Dicromantispa interrupta – has a distinct black-and-white pattern
- Euroleon nostras – commonly found in Europe
Characteristics of Mantisfly species:
- Size: Varies across species; 0.5-2 inches in length
- Color: Wide range of patterns and colors
- Habitat: Woodlands, fields, and gardens
- Prey: Small insects or spiders
Comparison between Mantisfly and Praying Mantis:
|Habitat||Woodlands, fields, gardens||Tropical and temperate regions|
|Size||0.5-2 inches||0.5-6 inches|
|Prey||Small insects or spiders||Insects and small animals|
|Wings||Two pairs||Two pairs (in males) or none (in females)|
In conclusion, mantisflies are fascinating insects with diverse species and a unique combination of features from different arthropods. Their predatory behavior, physical appearance, and distribution help us understand their role in ecosystems and their importance in the world of insects.
Life Cycle of Mantisflies
Mantisflies lay small, oval-shaped eggs that are typically placed on vegetation or other surfaces. Some species even suspend their eggs from silk-like filaments. The egg stage can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on environmental factors and the specific species.
Larvae and Hypermetamorphosis
Once hatched, mantisfly larvae undergo a unique developmental process called hypermetamorphosis. The first larval stage is an active, mobile form that often resembles a tiny caterpillar or spider. At this stage, the larva actively seeks out a host, usually a spider or a spider’s egg sac, which it will later consume from the inside to complete its development.
During their time inside the host, mantisfly larvae gradually transform into a more sedentary form, focusing on feeding and growing. After consuming the host, the larva leaves the now-empty egg sac or spider’s body and enters the next stage of its life.
Upon finishing its development inside the host, the mantisfly larva enters the pupal stage, where it forms a protective casing around itself. This stage can last for a few weeks, with the insect further developing inside the casing. Once fully developed, the adult mantisfly emerges from the pupa.
Adult mantid lacewings, or mantidflies, engage in mating behavior to start the life cycle once again. Their prothorax and raptorial forelegs make them look like a combination of praying mantises and paper wasps. However, they belong to the family Mantispidae, which is subdivided into four subfamilies, including Calomantispinae. In the article, the primary focus is on one of these.
To summarize, the life cycle of mantidflies consists of the following stages:
- Eggs: laid on vegetation or suspended from silk-like filaments
- Larvae and Hypermetamorphosis: active stage that seeks out a host, then feeds and develops inside the host
- Pupa: protective casing where further development occurs
- Mating: adult mantidflies mate and lay eggs to start the cycle again
The table below provides a comparison of key features in the mantisfly life cycle:
|Mantisfly Life Cycle||Key Features|
|Eggs||Small, oval-shaped, laid on surfaces or suspended from filaments|
|Larvae||Undergo hypermetamorphosis; mobile stage that seeks out hosts|
|Pupa||Protective casing for further development|
|Mating||Adult mantidflies engage in mating behavior|
Feeding and Hunting Strategies
Mimicry and Camouflage
Wasp mantidflies (Climaciella brunnea) use their appearance to avoid predators, as they look like a cross between a praying mantis and a paper wasp. This helps them blend in with their surroundings and stay safe from harm.
- Mimicry: Resembling wasps, mantidflies deter potential predators.
- Camouflage: Helps mantidflies blend in with their environment.
Prey and Predators
Mantidflies are predators to a variety of insects, including spiders, ants, beetles, and other small insects. Their raptorial front legs allow them to efficiently hunt their prey while minimizing the risk of being caught themselves.
|Small insects||Other predators|
- A mantidfly might efficiently hunt a spider by using its raptorial front legs.
- Ants and beetles are some of the common prey that mantidflies feed on.
Their unique feeding and hunting habits make them fascinating creatures worthy of study and appreciation.
Behavior and Habitat
Mantisflies are fascinating insects that exhibit unique behaviors and adapt well to their environment. In this section, we will discuss their nocturnal activity, environmental adaptations, and the role they play as predatory insects.
- Mantisflies are primarily nocturnal creatures
- They are active hunters during the night, targeting other small insects
Mantisflies, such as the Climaciella brunnea, are nocturnal insects that exhibit increased activity during nighttime hours. They are known to hunt various insects like aphids, mites, and other small creatures during the night, taking advantage of the darkness which allows them to ambush their prey effectively.
- Found in tropical regions and other habitats
- Exhibits camouflage coloration for effective hunting
Mantisflies are found in a variety of habitats, including tropical regions and temperate zones. Their environmental adaptations such as their coloration and appearance allow them to blend in with their surroundings, making them effective predators. For example, the Green Mantidfly (Leptomantispa pulchella) exhibits a bright green color that helps it blend into the foliage, while the Climaciella brunnea resembles a wasp, deterring potential predators.
|Mantisfly Species||Camouflage Technique|
|Green Mantidfly||Blends into the foliage with a bright green color|
|Climaciella brunnea||Mimics wasp appearance and coloring as a form of protection|
Mantisflies are not just predators but also have been known to feed on nectar. With their raptorial forelegs, they are excellent hunters and can prey on a variety of insects, including aphids, ants, and mites. In fact, some species, such as the Dicromantispa, are specialized predators of spider eggs.
Their unique environmental adaptations extend to their reproductive process as well. Female mantisflies possess an ovipositor to lay eggs in or near prey items such as spider egg sacs, ensuring that their offspring have a food source upon hatching.
Interesting Facts and Interactions
Roles in Science and Nature
- Mantisflies are unique insects that resemble a combination of a praying mantis and a lacewing insect1.
- They are delicate creatures with intricately veined wings and raptorial forelegs, used for catching prey2.
- Mantisflies are parasitoids, meaning they lay their eggs on or near their prey, and their larvae feed on the host until it’s consumed3.
- They play a significant role in controlling populations of other insects, such as spiders and moth larvae4.
- Mantisflies are known for their impressive flight abilities, which enable them to evade predators and capture prey5.
Mantisflies in Popular Culture
- Mantisflies, despite their unique appearance and biological significance, are not as well-known or widely recognized as other insects like praying mantises or butterflies.
- Some people are attracted to them because of their appearance, leading to a niche following on social media platforms where mantisfly gifs and photos are shared6.
- Mantisflies have been used in researching the evolution of insects’ mouthparts, as they exhibit significant differences compared to other, closely related species7.
- Some moth species have evolved to resemble mantisflies in order to fool predators like wasps and bees8.
|Size||Small, around 1 inch long9||Larger, up to 6 inches long10|
|Wings||Intricately veined, transparent11||Often large, solid-colored12|
|Forelegs||Raptorial, used for catching prey13||Raptorial, used for catching prey14|
|Role in Ecosystem||Parasitoid, helps control insect populations15||Predator, helps control insect populations16|
|Popularity in Culture||Relatively obscure, niche following17||Iconic, widely recognized18|
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Mantisfly
foud a very unusual bug looks like a cross between praying mantis,damsel fly,wasp.
December 2, 2009
I live in new york.Long Island to be specific.I found a strange very hard to identify bug,damsel fly, praying mantis … WASP?)looks like a mixture of the first two .Has only four legs,two hands or pincers in front like a praying mantis(fold in just like a praying mantis.The eyes are separated like a damsel fly.Only two wings that lay down towards back when resting(but dragon fly or damselfly in appearance),longish body more like a wasp body than a dragon fly body.The bug is aprox.3/4 in long from had to end of body/aprox.1in. from head to end of wings. I just cant identify this bug.My son thinks it’s a mutant.Please help me identify it!I have videos of it and photos.
USA/New york,long Island
This is a Mantidfly, and it is related to Lacewings and Antlions. We believe it is Leptomantispa pulchella, based on images posted to BugGuide.
Letter 2 – Another Brown Mantidfly
Is this a mantis or a bee?
Found this one in Wisconsin. Just don’t know what kind of bug it is? Do you have any idea?
Thanks Art Schroeder.
Wow, two photos of Brown Mantidflies in one day. Neither a mantis nor a bee, but a Neuropteran or Nerve Winged Insect.
Letter 3 – Brown Mantidfly
Not A Solpugid (sorry, I forgot the photo on the first one)
The photo from "D" titled "Smashed Solpugid Approached Infant" is not a Solpugid but rather a "Stenopelmatus fuscus" or as we in Utah call them, "Sand Puppy". There common name is "Jerusalem cricket". They look like giant ants, up to two inches long. Just thought ya might want to know. I do have a question for ya, the attached photo is a bug I found in Brigham City, Utah. It has a body like a hornet or wasp and has the front legs like a praying mantis, and wings like a dragon fly. It was about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. Any idea? Thanks,
Thanks for the misidentification correction. Can’t imagine how we let that one slip by. You attached photo is of a Brown Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea, a type of Neuropteran. Though they are not related to true mantids, they have a physical similarity as well as similar hunting habits.
Letter 4 – Brown Mantidfly
Part wasp / part mantis?
I Came across this insect two days ago in Howell, MI and have no idea what it is. I’ve enclosed two pictures of it. The first is the best view of what it looks like, the second gives a better look at its wings.
(And thanks for a great site.)
What a nice image of a Brown Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea, one of the Neuropterans or Nerve Winged Insects. Adults and larvae are both predatory.
Letter 5 – Brown Mantidfly
wasp? or mantis? New Pics
We saved this bug from drowning in the Snake River near Clarkston, Washington and wondered if wasps and Praying Mantis are cross breeding. I can’t seem to find any info on it… please help! Size is approx. 1 inch. By the way, what a great site you have, we’ve been looking at bug photos for 45 minutes! Thanks for your help.
The Brown Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea, is not closely related to either wasps or mantids, but to the Neuropterans like Lacewings and Antlions.
Letter 6 – Brown Mantidfly
My name is Mary I live in lexington Ky. I recently found what i think is a new species of pray mantis. He is disguised as a wasp. He has the upper torso of a normal mantid, but he has the lower abdomen of a wasp, wings identical to a wasp and four wasp legs. He can fly but only short distances. I e-mailed you once before but had no response so i thought i would try again. Please help me out. Has this ever been reported or seen before.
ps: Here is a picture of who we call "Wobby"
Wobby is a Brown Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea. Mantidflies, also known as Mantispids, resemble true mantises but are actually Neuropterans. Evolution has led them on a similar path, and they hunt in a similar manner, using their formidable front legs to grasp onto prey. They are relatively common in the South.
Letter 7 – Brown Mantidfly
hybrid praying mantiswasp
Though your non-query is disturbingly bereft of information, we like your photo so much we have decided to give the answer some attention. This is a Brown Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea, in the Family Mantispidae, Order Neuroptera. The Brown Mantidfly can be all brown, black, or banded with yellow like your specimen. Adults prey on small insects.
Letter 8 – Brown Mantisfly
Here’s a neat mantis seen on the middle fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. I was on a bit of a rampage against yellow jackets and almost squashed it before recognizing it as a "friendly". Is this a distinct species or a color variant?
This is not a true mantis. It is a Brown Mantisfly, but that is neither a mantis nor a fly. Though it looks like a wasp, it is not related to wasps either. Mantisflies are Neuropterans, and are related to lacewings and antlions.
Letter 9 – Brown Mantisfly
What is this bug?
Dear What’s That Bug,
I live in Northern Utah (Brigham City). This bug was discovered climbing on the building where I work a few days ago. Everyone that sees it is mystified. It looks a lot like a wasp, but has front legs and head like a preying mantis. It seems to like sugar water, but it also ate a small spider as you will see from
one of the photos. Do you have any idea what it is?
Despite its appearance, the Brown Mantisfly isn’t related to either Preying Mantids or Wasps. It is a Neuropteran or Nerve Winged Insect. Great photo.
Letter 10 – Bug of the Month June 2018: Mantispid
Geographic location of the bug: Corpus Christi, Texas
Time: 11:49 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello! Can you help me identify this flying bug? I THINK it only has 4 legs, so it’s not REALLY an insect, is it? It was on a friend’s porch last week.
How you want your letter signed: B. McCray
Dear B. McCray,
Though it resembles a Mantis, this Mantispid is a member of an unrelated insect order, the Neuropterans that includes Lacewings and Antlions. Both Mantids and Mantispids are predators that have adapted to using raptorial front legs for capturing prey. We believe your individual is Dicromantispa interrupta based on this BugGuide image.
Letter 11 – Bug Of The Month March 2013: Mantisfly
Subject: Another Strange Florida Bug
Location: Apollo Beach Florida
February 28, 2013 9:41 am
I took this photo a few months ago in Apollo Beach Florida. The bug was on a second floor window of a model home in a new development. Any ideas as to what it is?
Signature: Curious Marc
Dear Curious Marc,
Congratulations on being selected our Bug of the Month for March 2013. This is a Mantisfly or Mantispid, a predatory species in the family Mantispidae. There are several genera represented on BugGuide, and because of the silhouetted image, we aren’t certain of the classification, but we strongly feel this might be a member of the genus Dicromantispa which is also represented on BugGuide. Though they resemble both Mantids and Wasps, Mantisflies are not closely related to either group.
Letter 12 – Mantidfly
Hi, love your site. I grew up on a farm in Texas and have seen and played with many praying mantis but the other night my wife found this guy in our garage in Hutto, Texas and I had never seen anything like it. This guy flies VERY well and I was wondering what kind it was. I searched your site and could not find one like it. This guy is small and only about 1 1/4 inch long. Thanks…….
This is a False Mantid or Mantidfly, Mantispa species in the order Neuroptera. It resembles a mantid, but is not closely related.
Letter 13 – Mantidfly
I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I have come across this beetle a bunch of times this past week. I recently bought a house and I have been seeing them around inside the house. I was hoping to identify him so I could find out if I should be concerned… beyond the fact that they scare my girlfriend. I included a close up and one with my thumbnail to get a size perspective. I also wanted to add that I have really enjoyed browsing your site and look forward to checking it out in the future. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any info on the bug in question. I would never have imagined there were so many interesting bugs I also included a personal favorite picture I took of a Praying Mantis if your interested in posting it. I brought my bamboo in from the balcony last year as the weather was turning and found this little guy a couple days later. I let him roam free in the apartment since I didn’t know what else to do and the weather was getting rather cold. Poor guy met his fate in a spider web though. The one picture is to give an idea as to the size of the mantis, the bamboo is perhaps a foot tall. Thanks in advance,
Your beetle is not a beetle, but a True Bug, a Western Conifer Seed Bug. We get hundreds of photos of them and will not be posting yours. The “Mantis” is another story. This is not a mantis, but a Mantidfly or Mantispid, a Neuropteran. We are very excited by your photo as it is a new genus for us. It is Zeugomantispa minuta and we found it on BugGuide.
Letter 14 – Mantidfly
Mantid ID needed
Sent some pictures of this mantis before, but they were of poor quaility. This one’s much better. Mantis was found indoors in VA in early Dec 04, but we had recently returned from FL so it may have hitched a ride. Very small, just under an inch in length. Any ideas? Is it indigenous to VA? To North America?
Your lovely photograph is not of a Preying Mantis, but an unrelated species of Mantidfly. Mantidflies or Mantispids, belong to the Order Neuroptera which includes Dobsonflies and Lacewings. They are in the Family Mantispidae. We are only familiar with brown species so we checked with Eric Eaton who wrote back: “Yes, this is a mantispid, but I’m not sure of the genus and species. Mantispa was split recently, and so this particular species may fall under another genus now.” They are common in the South. Hope that helps.
Letter 15 – Mantidfly
Part Dragonfly, Part Praying Mantis?
I found this very interesting insect in my backyard in Charleston, SC, on July 24, and it was ~1-1.5 inches long. When I found it, it was in the grass and looked like it had just ‘molted’/metamorphed because the wings were still kind of smooshed as if the bug had been crammed into a too-small container. I think it’s a praying mantis of some kind, but I couldn’t find any photos that looked like my critter! I know that mantids have wings, but these remind me of dragonfly wings in shape/coloration/vein pattern. And the kaleidoscopic eyes are something I’ve NEVER seen! Do you know what it is? Thanks,
This is a Mantidfly in the family Mantispidae, and probably in the genus Dicromantispa as evidenced by BugGuide. Despite their appearance, Mantidflies are not related to Mantids. We really love the close-up you have provided us. Your Mantidfly close-up photo looks like a glamorous Hollywood starlet portrait.
Letter 16 – Mantidfly
Found in Central Florida
Found this mantis in Central Florida. What kind is it? Thanks
Hi Mr. Strong,
What we can tell you for sure is that this is not a mantis. It is a totally unrelated insect known as a Mantidfly in the family Mantispidae. The genus and species are pure speculation. Your specimen resembles Dicromantispa sayi which is pictured on BugGuide.
Letter 17 – Mantidfly
Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 10:18 AM
Back in June, we found this fascinating insect in our kitchen. He must have flown in and been attracted by the ventahood light. At first, I thought it was a wasp and was going to smash it (I’m allergic to wasps, so they get no quarter from me), but then I noticed that its front legs were distinctly mantis-like. So I called the boys to see the “funny-looking” mantis, and my son (a budding naturalist) said he thought it might be a “mantis-wasp” imitating a pepsis wasp. After an hour of searching through images of
wasps and mantids with no luck, I found the mantispid pictures on your site. I think we’ve properly identified him, but the naturalist wants confirmation.
Wendy (Mom), Caleb (the budding naturalist), and Isaac Anderson
Hi Wendy, Caleb and Isaac,
You are correct. This is a Mantidfly or Mantispid. Of all the genera and species posted to BugGuide, your specimen looks the most like Leptomantispa pulchella, but it doesn’t appear to be a perfect match.
Letter 18 – Mantidfly
mantid mantis? whats with the wings?
December 3, 2009
I recently sent you a photo of a unusual bug that entered my home and I caught on the wall.I realy had no idea what it was. looked like a damsel fly /praying Mantis.Well I think it might be a Mantis/mantid baby.I decided to feed it a small amount of cat food on the end of a stick or pencil and it attacked it.I learned that baby mantids or mantisis would eat that so I figured if it ate it I might find out what the heck this bug is…well what do you think?I have great photos/videos of it eating/attacking it also. It’s funny this bug came in my home I have always been facinated by THE PRAYING MANTIS/MANTID .I am going to raise it and see what I get.
northeast/new york/Long Island
We hope you can find it in you to love more than one family of insects, because this is not a Mantis. Despite appearances, your Mantidfly in the family Mantispidae is not remotely related to a Preying Mantis. It is a Neuropteran and is related to Lacewings and Antlions. Thanks for the awesome images. BugGuide has many examples of Mantidflies pictured.
Letter 19 – Mantidfly
Type of mantis?
Location: North Texas
May 9, 2011 12:28 pm
I found this bug in our backyard over the weekend. It looks like a type of mantis; however, the front legs seem to bend the opposite way. This one could fly, but not very well, or very far. I have never seen anything like it before.
Your confusion over this mantis-like insect is understandable. This is some species of Mantidfly in the family Mantispidae. They are not closely related to the Preying Mantids despite the remarkable visual similarity. The pale coloration of this specimen is unlike any of the Mantidflies on BugGuide, and we are not certain if it is the actual coloration or the result of shooting conditions.
Thanks for the information. And the colors in the photo are true to what I saw.
Letter 20 – Mantidfly
Subject: strage bug
Location: livingston county, michigan
October 8, 2012 4:39 pm
I found this lil guy/girl on my back door getting some sun. I have never seen any bug like it. It is about a 1/2 inch long. Please help ID it.
This unusual insect is frequently confused with a Preying Mantis, which it superficially resembles, but your Mantispid or Mantidfly is a member of an unrelated insect order, the Neuropterans, which includes Lacewings and Antlions. As their raptorial front legs would indicate, the Mantisfly is a predator that grasps its prey in a similar manner as the Preying Mantis. We believe the species is Dicromantispa sayi based on photos posted to BugGuide.
Letter 21 – Mantidfly
Subject: What the heck is this?
Location: West Hartford, CT
June 30, 2017 8:54 am
I have never seen one of these before, and my go to bug nerd friend was stumped, too. It appears to have come out of a thin clear cocoon of sorts, so I am guessing it started life as an inconspicuous wormy thing recently reborn as this little weirdo. I found it on the window in my office.
Signature: Should I be Worried
Thanks! I put the little guy in my garden. Hopefully, that’s a better spot for it than my office. Definitely going to look this one up.
Have a great day!
Letter 22 – Mantidfly (and a rant)
Not sure what this is.
Looks like the Mantidfly, but this one really looks like a wasp and not as hairy. Also added a couple of other picture not sure what they are either.
Yes, this is a Mantidfly.
Ed. Note: Our personal response to the querant who neglected to provide a location and who did not sign the email ended with the brief response above. We are letting the rest of our readership know, however, that we got a tad bit annoyed with what we consider to be a thankless request. The email contained eight images in total. It takes us a bit of time to answer and post, and an indication of gratitude is all we ask in return. Additionally, not providing us with a location might be our biggest peeve. Also, trying to sort through countless emails to piece together information sent by a querant, sometimes from multiple email addresses, is often more than we can take. Please forgive us this ranting digression and please be mindful that information you provide to us should be as complete as possible, and whenever resending us additional information, it is usually desireable to include your original information plus the images so we don’t have to conduct a scavenger hunt to assemble the pieces. Finally, please please please just one identification request per email. You would be surprised at the number of people who send every insect photo they have ever taken to us and expect identifications on them all, when browsing our site for a few minutes will probably provide many of their answers. Those letters usually go straight to the trash.
Letter 23 – Mantidfly from Australia
Sun, Nov 16, 2008 at 3:59 PM
found this tiny mantidfly on my back door. Its only about 12mm long but really liked the patterns which became visible in the close up. Order Neuroptera, Family Mantispidae, apart from that I can’t go further with the ID. Hope you like it.
As always, we love getting your contributions from Australia. The Mantidfly is a nice addition.
Letter 24 – Mantidfly Pupa, we believe
Subject: Bug identification
Location: 15 miles west of Chicago, IL
June 29, 2016 8:54 pm
I live about 15miles outside of Chicago, IL. & just took this picture on June 29th.
The bug was less than an inch long, there are 4 legs in the back, obviously 2 on each side, then looks like a long neck and two “arm-like” legs in the front near the head. The arms look like pinchers but I don’t think they are because they seemed to kind of assist him climb up the brick. Plus I think bugs need at least 6 legs… I didn’t kill him… I was hoping I discovered a new species lol… Jk ?
This is a predatory Mantispid or Mantidfly in the family Mantispidae, and we thought that perhaps we were looking at an individual that somehow lost its wings. We turned to BugGuide and we found this very similar looking image identified as Dicromantispa sayi, and it appears as though it is part of a metamorphosis series of images. That makes us wonder if it is a pupa. Did it move about or was it stationary? We are going to contact Eric Eaton to try to get some clarification on this. We continued to research and we found this image on pBase where it states: “This mobile pupa of a mantisfly, having recently left its cocoon, is wandering in the rain on a mossy log.” That would imply that your individual is preparing to molt one final time before emerging as a winged adult Mantidfly. Mantidflies are related to Lacewings and Antlions.
Thanks for replying!! What an interesting looking creature.
As for moving, he was up at eye level on the brick wall of my house and it seemed the “arms” were assisting him in moving but he wasn’t quick and maybe moved a few centimeters when I saw him. But how did he get up so high? Interesting…
Letter 25 – Mantisfly
Preying hornet ?
Hi, Love your website !!! This little creature was outside our back door here in New Hampshire. Could you please identify this preying mantis like wasp ?? It was about an inch long. Walks like a preying mantis and acts like one.
(07/11/2008) some sort of mantis?
Great site! Greetings from Forest Park, IL. I snapped this pic of a 1"-long, rather bizarre bug on my door frame. It seems like a mantid of some kind (the head shape and front legs mostly) but I can’t find a resource to confirm it. I hung 2 mantis pods in the backyard this year and have seen smaller, regular looking mantises around, but only one of this variety. Any ideas what it is? Thanks!
Your insect is a Mantisfly, a predatory insect related to Lacewings in the order Neuroptera. We are including another letter with your posting, because we really like the person inquiring if it was a Preying Hornet.
Letter 26 – Mantisfly
May 6, 2010
This bug was on the screen of our front porch door, at 11am. It just stayed there, and was not worried about the door opening and closing, nor was it concerned with us taking pictures of it.
Melissa and Jody Glasscock
Opelousas, Louisiana, USA
Hi Melissa and Jody,
This Mantispid or Mantisfly, though it resembles a Preying Mantis, is not at all closely related to the Mantids. Mantispids are actually related to Lacewings and Antlions. We believe the species is Dicromantispa interrupta which is profiled on BugGuide.
Letter 27 – Mantisfly
Strange bug on my window sill-
June 13, 2010
It is June in northern virginia. This bug we found in our living room window. It is a little under an inch long. has a large back section with wings and 2 sets of legs attached. Then a long “neck” like area and the head. Just under the head are 2 more legs that remind me of a praying mantis. It is brown/grey in color. What is that bug?
Thank you for submitting such well written letters and such beautiful photographs. Your letters are quite astute. You have compared this little Neuropteran to a Preying Mantis, and interestingly, it is known as a Mantisfly or Mantispid. We have gotten letters in the past comparing it to a cross between a wasp and a preying mantis, though that tends to be the brown and yellow striped species. It should be easy to recognize a predator in this Mantisfly, since raptorial front legs are always, to the best of our knowledge, associated with predatory behavior. Based on photos posted to BugGuide, and to descriptions, we believe this to be Dicromantispa sayi.
Letter 28 – Mantisfly
Location: Hollywood, FL
April 5, 2016 4:19 am
Just saw this very odd bug on the front of my house. It looked like a fly with a stick on it at first. I’m 54 years old and have never seen anything like this one. Do you know what it is? My neighbor’s 6 year old grandson wants to know as well! Many thanks!
Signature: Bambi Davidson
Though it is commonly called a Mantisfly, this unusual insect is neither a Mantis nor a Fly. Though they are not related, the Mantis Fly and the Preying Mantis have both evolved raptorial front legs for capturing prey, and grasping the prey while feeding. Mantisflies or Mantidflies are classified in the family Mantispidae, and they are most closely related to Lacewings and Antlions which are all in the order Neuroptera.
Dear Mr. Marlos-
Thank you so much for identifying that insect. I told the 6 year old that it looked like a cross between a fly and a preying mantis.
You’re the best!!!
Letter 29 – Mantisfly from Australia
What’s this bug?
Would love to know what this bug is? Spotted on the coast in Sawtell, NSW. Looks like it’s mouth part is a giant sucker? Big thanks
This is a Mantispid or Mantisfly, sometimes called a Mantid Lacewing. There is only one species pictured on the Geocities site, Ditaxis biseriata, and it looks very similar to the individual in your photo.
Letter 30 – Mantisfly from Saudi Arabia
Subject: Small mantis
Location: Saudi Arabia_ Madinah
April 27, 2014 3:30 am
I’ve found this tiny little guy hanging under a light, it was approximately less than centimeter long and was sitting high on the wall so I couldn’t get any better photos.
Although it seems like a mantis, it looks somewhat a bit strange.
Though it resembles a Mantis, this Mantispid or Mantisfly is from the order Neuroptera, which includes Lacewings and Antlions, and it isn’t even closely related to a Mantis. Like a true Mantis, the Mantisfly uses its raptorial front legs to capture prey, which includes small insects.
Letter 31 – Mantispid
Three species in one???
Howdy kind bug people!
(Cleveland, Ohio, USA) I found this guy while repainting my garage last summer (2005) and have off and on tried to identify it and talk with people about it. Just found your site this morning and spent a few hours looking at photos trying to find something closely resembling my specimen. Nothing looked similar so I hope dearly that this post is not wasting your time and gives a proper challenge to experts in the field. The pictures are poor because i was on a ladder and had bad sun issue and an older digital camera that is not well suited to detailed closeup shots. Anyway, the body of this guy looked to be wasp-like, but the head and front two legs were almost definately mantis-like. The closest thing I could conclude about the wings is that they look similar to a cicada. Needless to say, i’m stumped. I respect all forms of life, though a few bugs can send my body into the flight or fight response. I kept my calm and so did this guy as he did not seem to mind my presence and only moved slightly when I got very close with the camera. Image breakdown: 0851.jpg and 0852.jpg are about the best shots I have for the overall picture of the insect. the forearms are fairly visible under the head tucked up in the "praying" pose. four legs visible under thorax and wing definition is clear. 0859.jpg is blurry but I included it because it shows the profile of the forearms as the insect moved and stretched them out. Very "paddle like" that may have some leaf-camoflauge purpose. 0863.jpg and 0864.jpg also show profile but in good focus that reveals antennae. Also of note (i think), the thorax in profile shows a good bit wider than the abdomen. Not sure what this could be, but doesn’t quite look right in my mind’s eye. Ok, that’s my crude analysis. If you need more information about what I saw, please feel free to write me back. I know you are swamped with reader mail, but I do hope you can help me out with Identifying this perpelexing creature!
Of course right after i send the email do i stumble upon the Lacewing section (thought it would be more moth/butterfly like so never checked it) and found the picture of the Mantispid from Detroit. Very similar to the specimen I found. Sorry to bother you, but thanks for the site, now I can rest easy(ier). cheers,
Thank you for using our site to identify your Mantispid. Your specimen is, we believe, in the genus Mantispa.
Letter 32 – Mantispid
Location: East Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey
July 26, 2010 8:21 am
Hi guys…hope all is well. I thought you might enjoy this mantispid I had at my mercury vapor light in East Brunswick New Jersey (June 23, 2010). It is Climaciella brunnea. really an awesome insect. It is about 34” long and flies very well (discovered after it escaped in my office and immediately flew to the ceiling out of reach). If ever there was an insect that could be used for a sci-fi flick this wasp mantisfly is it! Enjoy, Dave
Nice to hear from you again. Also, many thanks for identifying your Mantispid to the species level.
Letter 33 – Mantispid
Location: Elyria, Ohio
July 17, 2011 10:28 pm
I was getting ready for work this morning and found this bug on the faceplate in the bedroom. I almost thought it was 2 bugs mating, it kind of reminds me of a combination of a praying mantis and a flying ant. Thanks!
This is a predatory Mantispid, and it really does resemble a cross between a Preying Mantis and a Flying Ant, however, it is not closely related to either. Mantispids are Neuropterans, and their close relatives include insects like Lacewings and Antlions.
Letter 34 – Mantispid
Location: north central illinois
July 21, 2011 4:36 pm
Found this in my house by a window like like a mantis with clear wings but I don’t know its creepy looking though
Signature: justin south beloit
Though it looks very similar to a Mantis, the Mantispid in your photo is an unrelated insect. Mantispids are Neuropterans and they are classified with the Lacewings and Antlions.
Letter 35 – Mantispid
Mantis Armed Pony Bug
Location: Huntington, NY
September 2, 2011 5:05 pm
This interesting character showed up inside our house on Long Island a few days after Hurricane Irene blew through our area. He or she stayed close to the ceiling, wandered around a bit, and seemed to eat some charcoal off a drawing on the wall. We are extremely intrigued by this little bug, and were rather disappointed when we couldn’t locate him/her this morning. We would very much appreciate some assistance in identifying this particular insect. Thank you kindly! (photos taken by B. and may be published or reproduced by What’s That Bug only, please)
Signature: B & T W
Dear B & T W,
You have already noted the physical similarity, the raptorial front legs, between your insect, a Mantidfly or Mantispid, and a Preying Mantis, but they are not closely related. The Mantispids are Neuropterans that are related to Lacewings and Antlions. Some Mantispids mimic wasps, but they do not sting. We believe your species is Leptomantispa pulchella based on images posted to BugGuide.
Thank you so much for your quick and informative identification!
We very much appreciate what you do!
B & T
Letter 36 – Mantispid
Location: Glenwood Springs, Colorado
March 20, 2012 4:20 am
Just this past summer (2011), my fiancé and i were relaxing on the front patio of our house and noticed a strange ”wasp” crawling on the ground. Unfortunantly at that time we did not have our camera battery charged so we were not able to capture it. Thankfully, the next day we once again saw the insect on our front porch but this time, with our camera. I have never seen anything like this before. We live in the rocky mountains of Colorado. The ”wasp” was primarily dark amber and black. But did have orange and yellow features as well. Both of the times that we saw it, it was very reluctant to fly and much larger than most wasp i have seen before. PLease Help!
This Mantispid isn’t closely related to either Preying Mantids nor Wasps, despite the resemblance. It is actually classified with Lacewings and Antlions in the order Neuroptera.
Letter 37 – Mantispid
What Is It
Location: Hollywood, FL
April 4, 2012 7:25 am
It flew into my car this morning.
Signature: Phyliss J. Myers
Though it resembles a Preying Mantis, your Mantispid is an unrelated insect that shares a similar method of capturing prey with its namesake by using its raptorial forelegs. Mantispids are Nerve Winged Insects that are classified with Lacewings and Antlions in the order Neuroptera.
Letter 38 – Mantispid
Subject: mantid wasp?
Location: oliver, BC
October 23, 2013 11:26 am
Hello! I found this wasp-looking insect in early september amongst my wildflowers! I don’t think that i’ve ever noticed one before.
Signature: mikkel day
This is a Mantispid or Mantidfly, and it is not even closely related to mantids or wasps. It is classified with the Lacewings and Antlions as a Neuropteran. We have not had luck finding a visual species match.
Letter 39 – Mantispid
Location: Toronto, Canada
July 26, 2017 7:31 pm
It’s been a while since my last request, but here’s one for you. This was found inside here in Ontario, Canada, in August. It was about 1/2inch long with curiosly large pincers, a type or stage of mantis??
As its common name implies, this Mantispid or Mantisfly does bear an uncanny resemblance to its namesake, however, Mantispids are classified with Lacewings and Antlions as Neuropterans, and they are not even closely related to Mantids. They have evolved to have similar appearances because of the way they hunt. Based on BugGuide images, we believe your Mantispid is Leptomantispa pulchella.
Letter 40 – Mantispid
Subject: What species of Mantis is this?
Geographic location of the bug: Charleston, WV
August 29, 2017 6:29 AM
I found this little guy trapped in a spider web while working on a rooftop air conditioner.
I’ve never seen a mantis like this on, very tiny (about the size of my thumbnail) was mostly black with yellow/green spots around. Had a bumpy abdomen and long slender neck.
How you want your letter signed: Jacob
This is not a Mantis. It is an unrelated insect that has evolved to look similar to a Preying Mantis because it has a similar hunting style, using raptorial front legs to capture and hold prey while feeding. This is a Mantispid or Mantisfly, and we believe it is Leptomantispa pulchella.
Letter 41 – Mantispid from Australia
Location: Elanora, QLD, Australia
August 23, 2016 10:24 pm
Found this little guy sitting on a mate’s garage door, I have seen anything like him.
Signature: Liam Jackson
This is a Mantispid or Mantis Lacewing in the family Mantispidae. All of those names make reference to the resemblance of members of the family to the predatory Preying Mantids, but despite the resemblance, they are not closely related. Predatory Mantispids are classified along with Antlions, Lacewings and Owlflies in the order Neuroptera. Of all the Mantispids depicted on the Brisbane Insect site, your individual looks most like Austromantispa imbecilla, or perhaps Ditaxis biseriata which is also pictured on the Brisbane Insect site.
Letter 42 – Mantispid from Australia
Subject: Unknown insect
September 1, 2016 1:48 am
Saw this insect yesterday and have never seen or heard of one like it so pretty interested to know a bit more and if anyone knows the name of this bug.
Signature: William Anderson
We had never heard of Burpengary, and upon researching your location first, we learned it is in Queensland, Australia. This is a Mantispid or Mantid Lacewing, and by comparing your individual to the images posted to the Brisbane Insect website, we believe your individual may belong to the species Ditaxis biseriata.
Letter 43 – Mantispid from South Korea
Location: South Korea
September 18, 2011 9:43 pm
While at work I ran across this little guy. Have no idea what it is but defiantly caught my attention.
Though it resembles a Preying Mantis, this Mantispid is not closely related. Mantispids are classified with Lacewings and Antlions in the order Neuroptera.
Letter 44 – Small Mantis from Colombia, or Mantispid???
Subject: Some kind of Mantis
Geographic location of the bug: Colombia, South America
Time: 06:37 PM EDT
Once again, another bug fella just flew through my window, but this is the rarest (for me, at least) yet! I know it’s some kind of Praying Mantis but it is really small. Like less than one inch.
P. S. Sorry for the low quality pics, the little guy was flying really fast.
How you want your letter signed: Stranded, Daniel
Had you not mentioned the small size, we would have agreed that this is a species of Mantis, and we are still categorizing it as such, but we now question that it might be an unrelated predator that resembles a Mantis that is known as a Mantispid or Mantisfly. Your individual appears as though the wings are in the rest position with only one upper wing on top, covering the other three wings. Mantispids generally have two upper wings that meet in the middle when at rest. Perhaps Cesar Crash will have knowledge of South American Mantids that are very small.
Letter 45 – Wasp Mantidfly
A wasp of sorts
I discovered this "wasp" on an apple tree in our family orchard. It resembles a cross between a Praying Mantis and a Wasp. Any help will be greatly appreciated. I am located in Flushing Twp. in Michigan.
This is a Wasp Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea. Though the common name references three different groups of insects: Wasps, Mantids and Flies, this creature is none of the above. It is a Neuropteran, related to Antlions and Lacewings.
Letter 46 – Wasp Mantidfly
Live in Redding, CA found this unusual looking bug floating in the pool. What in the wide world of bugs is it! Looks like a wasp/praying mantis? Thanks for all the help
This is a Wasp Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea. It is a Neuropteran, and though it resembles both, it is not closely related to either a mantis or a wasp.
Letter 47 – Wasp Mantidfly
Crazy Mantis-Wasp Mix?
Location: Weiser, Idaho
September 3, 2010 11:39 pm
Hi Bugman! Hope you can help us. This strange wasp-thing was brought to me as the local wildlife rehabilitator in the hope I could identify it. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was aggressive and attempted to use its claw/mandibles to attack anything that came near. When not in use, the claws were folded by the head of the wasp. Ever seen one of these?
Signature: Gator in Idaho
Most of the images of a Wasp Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea, that we have received in the past as well as the ones that are posted to BugGuide are darker, but we did find an image of a lighter one with markings similar to your specimen posted to BugGuide. A revealing dialog is posted there. First Paul Lenhart who posted the photo wrote: “If this is Climaciella brunnea this species has some amazing intraspecific variation taylored for the local paperwasp species. The individuals at our research station are great mimics of one locally common paper wasp species, Polistes comanchus.“ Then Virgiliu Marius Aurelian responded: “Yes, your specimen is indeed Climaciella brunnea. They have a huge range of variation and it seems this variation is highly dependent on the Polistes spp. they mimic in that particular region.” The information page on BugGuide indicates: “Large mantidfly, Batesian mimic of Polistes wasp.” Finally, we decided to research the most common Paper Wasps in Idaho, and according to a University of Idaho Extension publication online, it is “the Golden Paper Wasp, Polistes fuscatus aurifer, a yellow-reddish-brown wasp with yellow banding.” A photo on BugGuide of Polistes aurifer looks remarkably like your Wasp Mantidfly.
Letter 48 – Wasp Mantidfly
Subject: preying mantis that mimics a wasp?
Location: Helena, Montana
August 3, 2012 8:38 am
We found 2 of these in our backyard in the late afternoon on August 2. One was in the grass and one was on our porch. It appears to be some kind of mantis with the front appendages and the head, but has the body appearance of a wasp. We haven’t seen anything like it before. How about you?
Signature: Sue Taylor
Though it isn’t closely related to either a wasp or a mantis, this Wasp Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea, owes its common name to its physical resemblance to those other insect orders. Mantidflies or Mantispids are actually related to Antlions, Lacewings and Owlflies. This particular species is thought to resemble Paper Wasps as a means of protective mimicry. They do use their raptorial front legs to capture and hold prey the way a mantis does. You can read more about the Wasp Mantidfly on BugGuide.
Letter 49 – Wasp Mantidfly: Trampled after mistaken identity
August 16, 2009
I was on the back of a pickup when a friend of mine noticed a yellow jacket on the bed, so I stepped on it. It wasn’t dead, and my friend noted that it was an extremely weird yellow jacket. I took a closer look at it and noticed that it was not a yellow jacket, it was a praying mantis. They’ve been discovered around where I and my friends discovered this one before, and I could not find any information on this species on the internet. When I stepped on this insect, its claws came off, but I recovered them off of the bed of the pickup. Also, there was some damage done to the abdomen where a possible stinger may have been, if this is a crossbreed, but I cannot tell.
We hope that had your realized that this was not a Yellow Jacket, you would have refrained from stepping on it. It is a harmless Wasp Mantidfly, Climaciella brunnea, or perhaps a related species. It is related to neither wasps nor mantids, but is in the same insect order as lacewings and antlions. It is a beneficial predator and it cannot sting or otherwise hurt you.
Yes, had I known I would not have stepped on it. Since I realized that I made a mistake, I am attempting to preserve this insect. It died in the container en route home. That pin is not in the insect, it is keeping it standing strait so it does not curl when it dries, so I can put it in with my collection. Well, thanks for letting me know what it is. I’m off to type a label.
Letter 50 – Wasp Mantisfly
Please help me…
Hi, maybe somebody know what kind of insect -(.. wasp? preying mantis? has only 4 legs) – is this? Picture was taken in Wakefield area in Quebec, Canada.
Though your insect is called a Wasp Mantisfly, Climaciella brunnea, it is neither a wasp, a mantis, nor a fly. It is a Neuropteran and is related to Lacewings and Antlions. As a point of clarification, Mantisflies have six legs, and the front two are raptorial for catching prey.
Letter 51 – Wasp Mantisfly
Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 12:43 PM
My son had this bug on his pant leg yesterday…July 1. He lives in Saratoga County, NY. It had front legs like a praying mantis but when I dumped it out of the jar I broke it’s leg and I watched it chew it off. It has wings and tail end like a wasp or hornet. The head and front legs looked like that of a praying mantis but brown. It has a long neck, too. It is not quite an inch long
Wondering in NY
This is Climaciella brunnea, commonly called a Wasp Mantisfly. The interesting thing about the common name, which includes three different types of insects by way of description, it that it is neither a wasp, nor a mantis, nor a fly. Other common names include Western Mantispid and Brown Mantisfly, according to BugGuide. These interesting Neuropterans, related to Antlions and Lacewings, always cause a stir when they are encountered by our readership. BugGuide also indicates they are “Predatory on other insects (and other Mantidflies), especially those coming to flowers. Also takes some nectar and sap.”
Letter 52 – Ambulatory Mantidfly Pupa
Subject: What bug is this?
July 17, 2016 5:05 pm
Hey! I live in Stamford, CT and found this bug crawling around. Do you know what kind it is?
This is the ambulatory pupa of a Mantidfly. Here is a matching image and additional metamorphosis images from BugGuide of the pupa of the Mantidfly Dicromantispa sayi. According to BugGuide, the larva: “spins a cocoon, and changes to a pupa within the skin of the larva. Later the larval skin is cast; and, finally, after being in the cocoon about a month, the pupa becomes active, pierces the cocoon and the egg-sac, and crawls about for a time; later it changes to the adult form.”