Other Common Names
Mantisflies, Mantid Lacewings
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Nearctic members of Mantispinae used to be treated in Mantispa
(restricted to the Old World, as currently defined)(1)
13 spp. in 6 genera in our area; 4 spp. in 3 genera in Canada(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)
, ~400 spp. in 44 genera worldwide(5)
Current taxonomic arrangement:
Plega Navás (4 spp., sw. US; 14 total)
Nolima Navás (3 spp., TX, AZ; 7 total)
Climaciella brunnea (widespread; 8 spp. total in the genus)
Dicromantispa Hoffman (2 spp., widespread, mostly East; 5 total)
Leptomantispa pulchella (widespread; 3 spp. total in the genus)
Xeromantispa scabrosa (West; monotypic genus)
Zeugomantispa minuta (East; 3 spp. total in the genus)
Like lacewings, but with raptorial, mantid-like forelegs; one species is a wasp mimic.
Keys to subfamilies and genera in(6)(1)
elongated, resembling a giraffe's neck
large "raptorial" front legs, modified for catching prey--with claw and spines,
front legs originate from anterior part of thorax (at front of elongated prothorax), so that only four legs are usually used for walking--front legs are held up, used for catching prey
head triangular with large eyes, mantid-like
Worldwide (mostly tropical) & across NA, more diverse in the south
Predatory: Adults eat small insects, caught with their raptorial forelegs. Larvae in the subfamily Mantispinae are restricted to feeding on eggs within egg sacs of spiders. Larvae in the other more primitive subfamilies (i.e. our genera Plega and Nolima) have been reared on immatures of Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, and Diptera, spider eggs and paralyzed spiders removed from sphecid cells.
Stalked eggs typically laid in large numbers.
Larvae undergo hypermetamorphosis
. In subfamily Mantispinae, 1st instar larvae either seek out and penetrate spider egg sac directly, or board spiders and wait for the opportunity to enter egg sacs as they are spun. In the other subfamilies, larvae are more generalist predators of other insects, especially terrestrial larvae of scarab beetles, noctuid moths, and certain wasps.
Redborg K.E. (1998) Biology of the Mantispidae. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 43: 175-194. (Abstract