Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pic of the Day: The Next One

I have only seen a member of this insect family ONCE in my entire half-century...and I spend a lot of time looking at bugs. I NOTICE bugs, wherever I go (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

This one was pretty hard to miss: the brilliant Day-Glo green of a safety vest, perched on the fleece of a black lamb while we were sorting sheep to go to Bowser's in the morning. Even though it's much smaller than the photo (only 1/2" long overall), the distinctive silhouette triggered instant recognition.

It's clearly a member of the Mantispidae family, order Neuroptera (which includes lacewings). Mantispids are predatory on insects, and lay their eggs in spider egg cases where the larvae are parasitic.
But the Mantispids shown in "The Book"--Salsbury & White, Insects in Kansas--are brown. My first Mantispid sighting, on Roger Andres' farm in extreme eastern Wabaunsee County, was obviously Climaciella brunnea--beautifully patterned in brown and yellow, it looked for all the world like a paper wasp that had dressed up as a preying mantis for Halloween, and was about the same size, more than an inch and a half long.
So what is this one? The only other species listed in the book are Mantispa interrupta and M. sayi--both apparently grayish-brown, with wings bordered in brown. It doesn't give a size. In body form, this one seems quite similar to the photo shown for these two Mantispa spp. Obviously the development of the wings in this speciman is aborted; they look like the wings of a butterfly that was handled too much during the terribly sensitive time between hatching and hardening. Maybe the color is also not fully developed, and it will "ripen" to brown? It has not appeared to change significantly in any way from the time we found it mid-afternoon until now, about 11:30 p.m. I doubt that my capture of it did any more harm than its ride on the sheep's back. In fact, I suppose that lanolin from the wool might have interfered with its natural development process.
It will be spending the night in a quart canning jar, and I'll post an update if anything "develops". I'll also try to get it to the Biological Survey folks for a definitive ID if possible.
My favorite part of it is the 1960's "flower power" eye pattern quite distinct in many of my photos. In manner, it is a calm but alert little creature, continually turning to eye me like the frog did. It woggles its antennae alternately.

1 comment:

Wandering Coyote said...

That is actually a very pretty bug!