Wasp Mantisfly (or Mantidfly)
Part 1 (three photos
"When a Wasp Isn't a Wasp"
I was stumbling through the bushes and rocks on Antelope Island after the Spider Festival (which was
fabulous, by the way) trying not to aggravate the large paper wasps that were hanging around in the
sunflowers and rabbitbrush. As I got on firmer ground, I saw another wasp in some bushes and decided
to check it out because it was easier to get to. What I saw was a praying mantis's head on a wasp's body.
Was I hallucinating from inhaling wasp fairy dust? Holy cow! I ran over and started shooting pictures
because I knew no one would believe this story without a picture to prove it. Notice the front
claw-like arms in the next photo. © Carol Davis 8/10/2013
The "wasp thing" was frantically trying to crawl up through the middle of the bush and I was frantically
trying to get a decent picture while it was on the move. Thankfully, its progress was somewhat slow
because of its cumbersome front legs.When it got almost to the top, it had enough room to fly away
and it was gone forever from my life. Wait! Wait! (by far the weirdest insect I have ever seen in Utah).
What a treat!!! This insect, which was as large as a Polistes paper wasp (actually, it was longer) is a
wasp mimic and it drinks plants juices and preys on small insects for dessert. The female lays eggs on
leaves and when the larvae hatch they look for a spider, preferably a wolf spider, to attach themselves
to. I won't explain any further - I'll just let you read the gruesome details of their childhood
here at Colorado State's site. Below is a real paper wasp. © Carol Davis 8/10/2013
Which of these insects is scarier? The Paper Wasp can sting, but the Wasp Mantisfly has hidden agendas.
Well, I have to go now and warn all the wolf spiders of what their babies may have in store for them.
There is another page of mantisfly photos here taken a few days later. © Carol Davis, 7/30/2013
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