, 98:453 | Cite as

Aboard a spider—a complex developmental strategy fossilized in amber

  • Michael OhlEmail author
Short Communication


Mantid flies (Mantispidae) are an unusual group of lacewings (Neuroptera). Adults markedly resemble mantids in their general appearance and predatory behavior. The larvae of most mantispids exclusively prey on spider eggs, whereby the first instar larva is highly mobile and active and the other two larval stages immobile and maggot like. One of the larval strategies to pursue spider eggs is spider-boarding. Here, I report on the first record of a fossil mantispid larva. It was found in Middle Eocene Baltic amber, and it is the first record of Mantispidae from this deposit. The larva is attached to a clubionoid spider in a position typical for most mantispid larvae, and, thus, it is also the first fossil record of this complex larval behavior and development.


Neuroptera Mantispidae Hypermetamorphosis Fossil Spider Parasitism 



I thank Jürgen Velten for making the fossil available for study. Images were used with the permission of Heiko Bellmann (Fig. 2a) and Kevin M. Hoffman and the American Entomological Society (Fig. 2b, c). Jörg Wunderlich identified the spider and informed me about the already published photographs of this amber piece. Jason Dunlop corrected the manuscript linguistically and provided literature.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museum für NaturkundeLeibniz-Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung an der Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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