The mantis wasp

Mantis wasps (Torymidae: Podagrion) are tiny, parasitoid wasps that develop in preying mantis’ egg masses, or oothecae. Each developing wasp larva consumes a single egg in the ootheca (which can contain several hundred eggs), but in some areas the number of these insects can be so high that it is a miracle that any mantids survive at all. Podagrion wasps can be  identified by the combination of a very long ovipositor and huge hind legs, which are used by the female to guide the ovipositor directly into the mantis eggs (I have always been impressed by the similarity of these legs to the raptorial legs of a preying mantis, the wasps’ host.) I photographed this wasp, which was only about 2 mm long, in Cambodia as it emerged from an ootheca of a preying mantis; surprisingly, this female was the only individual to emerge, which was good news from the remainder of the eggs.

Mantis wasp (Podagrion sp.) freshly emerged from a preying mantis’ ootheca [Canon 1Ds MKII, Canon 100mm macro, Canon MT-24EX twin light + Canon 50EX speedlight]
Female mantis wasp (Podagrion sp.) cleaning her ovipositor [Canon 1D MKII, Canon MP-E 65mm macro, Canon MT-24EX twin light + Canon 50EX speedlight]

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Gil Wizen says:

    I love the wasp pose (looks like it is in the middle of a dance). Those hind legs are amazing!

  2. Avery says:

    I love this word: ootheca. I think I will name my next pet Ootheca.

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