What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Lambkin (1986a, b) recognised 45 Australian species, in the subfamilies Mantispinae, Calomantispinae and D repanicinae which have a 5-segmented tarsus and in which the ovipositor is not strongly produced. S ymphrasinae are limited to the New World, and their larvae are sedentary, generalist predators being most commonly found in nests of social Hymenoptera (especially Vespidae) and burrows of scarab beetle larvae. Mantispines are specialised, obligate parasites of spiders and the triungulinid 1st instar larva either boards a female spider and enters the egg sac as it is produced, to feed on the eggs, or searches directly for an egg sac. Later instars are relatively immobile. The pattern of attack appears to be constant in some mantispines, and variable in others. Some species, at least, are able to retard development of their hosts through chemical interference. Pupation occurs within the host egg sac.

Little is recorded on the biology of Australian taxa, but Campion australasiae females may congregate on trees or telegraph poles to lay their many hundreds of small ovoid eggs on short stalks (McKeown and Mincham 1948). In common with many other specialised, parasitic insects with potentially high mortality in an early stage, fecundity is very high, and up to several thousand eggs may be laid by a single female, with individual batches comprising several hundred eggs.


Very distinctive mantid-like lacewings; small to medium sized (fore wing length 5-25 mm); strongly raptorial fore legs with elongate coxa; pronotum long. Wings narrow, with a very clearly defined pterostigma. Antennae short, sometimes weakly (e.g. Campion ) or conspicuously ( Euclimacia ) thickened. Some species are brightly coloured and appear to mimic social Hymenoptera as the adults tend to be diurnal and are sometimes found on flowers. Other species are nocturnal or crepuscular.


The family is widely distributed, especially in warmer parts of the world. The most diverse genus in Australia is the endemic Theristria (23 spp.).

  • Mantispa sp. larvae

  • Campion tenuistriga

  • Asperala erythraea

  • Ditaxis biseriata

  • Mantispid (mantis fly 9mm)

  • Campion rubellus

  • Theristria pallida