Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Gotta Love Evolution!

Gotta marvel at evolution! Always something new. Here’s a mantidfly. It’s not a mantid, but it has evolved to look like one. It’s related to the lacewings – the flying adult you see in Zululand that has the antlion as its larva stage. Here’s what they can look like:

And here’s their story:

“Mantidflies belong to the insect order Neuroptera and are related to more familiar insects like lacewings and antlions. Adult mantidflies clearly show convergent evolution with praying mantids, which are members of a completely different insect order. Both kinds of insects are visual predators that use their raptorial forelimbs to grab up insect prey. Mantid fly biology is otherwise very different from praying mantids. These insects have a larval stage, and during this stage they are parasitoids on other insects or spiders. ‘Parasitoid’ is the technically accurate term since they kill their hosts rather than merely encumber them. The larva of this species of mantidfly enters the egg sac of a jumping spider and eats the eggs, all while the female spider is guarding them!”

Here’s a jumping spider thinking she has everything under control:

Photographed and written about by Mark Sturtevant on Matt Young’s Panda’s Thumb blog.

You know what a mantid looks like, so here’s a lacewing I snapped in isiMangaliso Wetland Park, overlooking Lake St Lucia: