guess who’s back in town?

Guess who’s back in town?

Yes, it’s those wonderfully bizarre Mantidflies (Climaciella brunnea). This summer’s weather has been a little odd – cool and rainy – so insect activity hasn’t seemed to be entirely normal. I’d been watching for the return of the Mantidflies, and perhaps they have been around for awhile, but I didn’t see the first ones until July 19th. Other years, I’ve begun seeing them in late June or early July. As in the past, I found this one clinging to the flowers of a Common Milkweed plant in small area of one of our fields. It seems that they are most attracted to a particular stand of milkweed with flowers that are a bit deeper shade of pink — it’s probably some subspecies of Milkweed, but I haven’t taken the time to figure it out. The mantidflies seem to gather on the flowers that are sticky with nectar and pollen.

I won’t write much about these insects today as I have a second post that I’d like to put up. However, if you’d like to see more photos and read more about Mantidflies, please visit these earlier posts. Here are some links:
unexpected arrival of a mythical beast – June 22, 2006.
they’re baaaack! – July 1, 2006.
dance of the mantidfly – July 2, 2006.
Mantidfly roundup – July 22, 2006.
like clockwork – June 22, 2007.

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5 Responses to “guess who’s back in town?”

  1. Mark P Says:

    It looks like Dr Seuss designed it.

  2. DougT Says:

    As always, the photo is superb. Your mantid flies are prettier than the ones that we have here. Ours aren’t wasp mimics with the pretty yellow banding on the abdomen. On the issue of milkweed flowers, I find that Asclepias syriaca has quite a bit of color variation. Some of them can be a very deep pink/purple.

  3. Wayne Says:

    Ha – I like Mark’s association. I even looked for a hat.

    I’ve learned to appreciate flies, and there are certainly a lot of fascinating forms, but this mantidflies must be on the top of the list. And I’ve yet to find one!

    A great photo, and could the color coordination be any better?

  4. robin andrea Says:

    That’s quite a handsome creature. Nice to see its annual appearance, even if a bit late. Anybody else hanging out in the milkweed these days? Any monarchs? Here we are back in California and not a single monarch sighting. I’m really surprised.

    Beautiful photo, bev. The wings do coordinate so well with the flora.

  5. bev Says:

    Mark – It sure looks that way! (-:

    Doug – Thanks! We’ve noticed quite a bit of variation in the milkweed too. Most of the plants around our farm have flowers that are pale to a soft pink, but there are a couple of stands that have flowers that are quite a deep pink tinged with burgundy. They seem to have a different scent — really quite cloying. Those are the plants that seem to attract the mantidflies.

    Wayne – I hope you get to see a mantidflie some time. They’re really quite small, so just keep a sharp look-out among the “wasps” you find on flowers and I expect you’ll find one.

    robin – I think they’re handsome too — really quite elegant and fragile-looking little creatures. Re: milkweeds — It’s been quite rainy here and I’m not finding the numbers of insects and spiders I would expect to see. I hope things pick up around here. Monarch numbers seem low — I’ve just seen a few butterflies over the fields and almost no larvae. Again, I suspect it has to do with the cool, wet weather.

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