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Neither Mantis nor Fly…but feisty enough

December 13, 2017

This is the time of the year that insectophiles like myself start closely examining the young leaves of eucalypt trees. The leaves are a mecca for insects like eucalyptus beetles, emperor gum moths and cup moths to eat, play and mate on.

Mantis Fly 1-DSCN7017

It was on one casual gum leaf observation trip I came across the insect pictured above. It is a Mantis Fly (order Neuroptera) but it is neither a mantis nor a fly. The Mantis Fly is a type of lacewing. The mantis reference pertains to the large raptorial forelegs which the mantis fly uses to grasp prey. They are most active at night and are active predators hunting sizable insects.






Usually when photographing insects, at some point in time the insect gets sick of the camera lens getting closer and closer and takes off either by flying or crawling away or dropping to the ground. I was therefore surprised when this Mantis Fly decided that the best form of defense is attack and started to rake the lens with its forelegs (pictured right). Feisty!

I must learn to pick on someone my own size next time.

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