This weekend was a bit of a washout. My plan to go to Mae Nam Pa Chi was cut short by poor conditions on the trail I was planning to walk. So I decided to take a look at Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan, also in Ratchaburi. It is in fact not officially gazetted yet as an official National Park but Cabinet approval was given, in principal for it to become a National Park, in June.
As it borders Kaeng Krachan National Park and the Mae Nam Pha Chi Wildlife Sanctuary it is an important part of the Western Forest Complex. The main entrance of the park is built around a reservoir and the surrounding forest was all secondary but deserves some future investigation as our walking plan was curtailed by the constant rain. But the weekend was not a complete washout as I did get to see my first ever Mantidfly!
At first I thought it was a hornet and was about to step back. Then I noticed its foreleg protrude in a strange but familiar manner.
I was convinced that it was a mantis, but with the very kind help of Kai Schütte of the Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum, I discovered it was something quite different. A Mantidfly (AKA Mantisfly or Mantid Lacewing) of the family Mantispidae. It is of the order Neuroptera (Antlions and Lacewings) and not of the order Mantodea (Mantids). They do get their common name from their mantis-like appearance, as their front legs are modified to catch small insect prey and are very similar to the front legs of Mantids. Mantidflies are also predators of other insects the same as mantids.
A very good lesson for me – things are not always what they seem!