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Type of Mantidfly? (Mantispidae) - Dicromantispa sayi - female

Type of Mantidfly? (Mantispidae) - Dicromantispa sayi - Female
Wexford, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
July 20, 2013
Found this Mantidfly this morning on the underside of an Pine tree branch. She was laying eggs for hours. Wish the pictures were better but the lighting was bad. Any help as to which species?

Images of this individual: tag all
Type of Mantidfly? (Mantispidae) - Dicromantispa sayi - female Type of Mantidfly? (Mantispidae) - Dicromantispa sayi - female Type of Mantidfly? (Mantispidae) - Dicromantispa sayi - female

Wonderful in situ oviposition series!
It's great to have oviposition behavior documented in a natural setting for this fascinating creature. Also interesting you observed this in the daytime, as I was under the impression mantispids were generally nocturnal.

I'm curious...was the female walking upside-down along the bottom of a horizontally oriented branch? (It appears that way, from the orientation of the 2nd and 3rd images in your series.) That would be helpful to know, for those of us who may want to keep our eyes out for such behavior in the future.

Though this could be Leptomantispa pulchella, I'm thinking, like Ross, that it looks like the dark form of Dicromantispa sayi...which was formerly known as Mantispa uhleri before it was synonymized with Mantispa sayi by Hoffman in 1989. A very detailed study of that species (under the name M. uhleri) can be found here. Later the genus name was changed to Dicromantispa (again, by Hoffman in 2002, as part of a nomenclatural move to separate new world taxa from old world taxa).

Wow thanks for the detailed response and info
Yes, she was laying her eggs while upside-down under the horizontal branch of a scots pine. I found her in the morning about 9:00 a.m. and kept checking back. I think she was finished at about 5:00 p.m.

I went back to the tree yesterday and found her eggs along with many other clusters on the same branch and branches above(all on the under-sides of the branches). Seems to be a popular spot for them.

Hopefully next July, if they come back to the same tree, I will be able to document them better & get higher quality photos.

Thanks again :)

Very interesting that she was at it nearly all day
Looks like all those crevices in the bark might be promising habitat for her larvae to find spiders once they hatch.

If you and your son want a fantastic project, you might consider collecting some of the eggs (I don't think it would have much of a negative impact...considering their vast numbers!:-) and then attempting to rear some larvae. I know it sounds daunting, but the detailed study I mentioned in my earlier comment above has all sorts of nitty-gritty info and ideas for how to successfully do it. Here's the detailed reference again:

    Redborg K.E. & E.G. MacLeod. 1985. The developmental ecology of Mantispa uhleri Banks (Neuroptera: Mantispidae). Illinois Biol. Monogr. 53. 130 pp.

Or you can keep your eyes open for spider egg sacs in the vicinity of the mantispid eggs over the coming weeks and months (or in spring). M. sayi larvae can either penetrate a spider egg sac or board a (hopefully female) spider, and later enter the egg sac as the spider deposits it. Either way, in your climate I'd guess eclosion of adults from that batch of eggs wouldn't occur until next spring.

Posts of mantispid larvae appears below:

And a great series from egg case through eclosion of an adult is here:

It's really quite rare for someone to find/notice mantispid egg-laying in the wild, so this is an unusual opportunity for you.

Moved from ID Request.

Dicromantispa sayi…
The images are a bit dark, but I'm pretty sure this is D. sayi. Great rare shots where you can see the eggs on short stalks. Up to several thousand can be laid at once. Nice effort.

See reference here.

Thanks Ross
I think you are right but was reading about the confusion between D. sayi and Leptomantispa pulchella. Are my images to dark to discern the difference? I moved them to D. sayi. Not sure if they should be kept there, moved or frassed. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks again

Shouldn't be situ oviposition images very rare!
But I agree that the images are rather darkly lit. If you don't mind, as a BugGuide Editor, I can try to adjust these images in Photoshop to improve the lighting...and, if I succeed, upload the reprocessed versions. The series could be improved if the lighting were better.

Thanks Aaron
You have my permission to adjust the images as I was so disappointed with the quality but so happy with the find. Can you take them from here or do I need to send them to you? I have many more photos of this specimen also if they don't work. Let me know.

Your permission was sufficient...I went ahead and posted "highlights-shadows" adjusted image files in place of your old ones...hope you find them in improvement.

Also, about those other photos. There's a good chance I may be able verify the species ID if you have any that show:

1) the forewing venation with some clear detail, or
2) better yet...a side-view of the pronotum showing details of very fine hairs (cf. the images I gave links to in my "Leptomantispa pulchella vs. Dicromantispa sayi" comment below).

So if you have images satisfiying either 1) or 2)...then by all means post the best ones here (they can easily be deleted later if desired), or email them to me if you want me to let you know whether they're diagnotic before posting them. I can quickly try to correct highlights/shadows again if need be.

Leptomantispa pulchella vs. Dicromantispa sayi
Regarding the question of L. pulchella vs. D. sayi here...seems it's hard to know for sure without a very clear, high resolution view of the ("giraffe neck"-like) pronotum.

If the pronotum has short setae (="hairs") distributed throughout its length, as seen here, then you know you have L. pulchella.

On the other hand, if there are only very fine setae...situated mainly at the ends of the pronotum rather than the middle, as seen here...then you have D. sayi.

This "pronotal hairs" distinction is the principal character used in both the Canning's 2006 treatment of Mantisipdae of Canada, and in Hoffman's 2002 treatment of Mantispidae of Costa Rica. (Unfortunately, there's presently no readily available recent treatment at the species level for the area between Canada and Costa Rica!:-) Beyond the pronotal setae character, opinions seem to often be based on characters that are variable and overlap between different regions and populations of the two species...and thus those opinions may or may not be correct.

At this point, I don't think it's unreasonable to leave the series here under D. sayi...but if you want to be conservative in your ID, you could move the series to the Mantispidae page. Hopefully, more expert opinion can confirm or correct the placement (if in error) in the future.

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