|scientific name Ochthera |
common name Mantis Fly
Damp areas, especially on sandy or muddy shorelines, with aquatic larvae.
Seasonality is variable in this genus due to their widespread range.
Identifying this genus is relatively easy due to their large raptorial forelegs, similar to those of a preying mantis. The enlarged femur of the first leg, also known as the prothoracic leg, has several large spines. Members of Ochthera are a glossy black, and may have metallic golden or silvery markings formed by a waxy coating known as pruinosity on their head, thorax and abdomen. Their eyes are large and reddish in colour and their wings are clear, with the veins ranging from light brown to black. They are generally fairly small insects, being between 2.96mm for Ochthera baia Cresson to 6.29mm for Ochthera collina Clausen (Clausen, 1977). The females are larger than the males, by up to about a millimeter.
Citing Deonier's report from 1974, Clausen (1977) mentioned that when members of Ochthera meet, they wave their forelegs in what may be a threat or recognition display, and further studies found that ultraviolet-reflective surfaces in the face and fore coxae may play a role in these meetings.
All known members of the genus Ochthera are carnivorous, and feed on other insects. The larvae are also carnivorous, and feed on the aquatic larvae of other species, especially chironimid larvae (Clausen, 1977).
This genus is very widespread. There are 17 species and they are found mainly in the Nearctic, the Neotropical, and the Palearctic regions, though there are representatives in the Ethiopian, Oriental and Australian regions as well (Clausen, 1977).
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