AW Insect Book: Mantids (Mantodea) Pics & Descriptions

Fri May 25, 2012 8:34 pm

AW Insect Book: Mantids (Order: Mantodea)

Upload your picture of mantid and add a description underneath. Please only do one species per post.

All entries will be edited and updated (additional photos and information will be added by moderators). New entries will be posted according to taxonomic order and the post date does not reflect the actual date of new posts.

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Index to Mantids (Mantodea)

Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:46 pm

Mantids (Mantodea)

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Amorphoscelidae

Empusidae
Empusa guttula Cone-headed Mantid viewtopic.php?p=244009#p244009
Idolomorpha dentifrons Cone-headed Mantid viewtopic.php?f=247&t=3220&p=143359#p156920

Iridopterygidae (members of this family were formerly a subfamily within Mantidae)

Hymenopodidae
Oxypiloidea subcornuta viewtopic.php?p=250705#p250705
Phyllocrania paradoxa Leaf Mantid viewtopic.php?p=314526#p314526

Liturgusidae

Mantidae
Omomantis zebrata Zebra Mantid viewtopic.php?p=268233#p268233
Popa spurca spurca Twig Mantis viewtopic.php?p=213851#p213851
Sphodromantis gastrica Common Green Mantis, Giant Mantid, Praying Mantis viewtopic.php?f=247&t=3220&p=143359#p143359
Unidentified Common Mantid viewtopic.php?f=247&t=3220&p=177142#p177142

Sibyllidae

Tarachodidae
Episcopomantis chalybea Double-coned Grass Mantid viewtopic.php?f=247&t=3220&p=172694#p172694
Tarachodes sp. Bark Mantid viewtopic.php?f=247&t=3220&p=162013#p162013
Tarachodes sp. Bark Mantid viewtopic.php?f=247&t=3220&p=172658#p172658

Thespidae
Hoplocoryphella grandis Stick Mantid viewtopic.php?p=245291#p245291

Toxoderidae

Re: AW Insect Book: Mantids (Mantodea) Pics & Descriptions

Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:02 pm

Common Green Mantis, Giant Mantid, Praying Mantis Sphodromantis gastrica
Family: Mantidae

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Kruger National Park (March)

Description
Large (body length 55 mm), robust and bright green, usually with white spot near anterior corner of each fore wing.
A slow-moving, predatory insect, it sits back on its hind legs holding its front legs out together as if praying.
The raptorial forelegs are their defining feature and African mantises use them to capture prey and defend themselves from predators. They are robust insects 1–17 cm in length. They have long, slender walking legs used for lunging. They are green or brown in colour. The African mantis has whitish spots or stripes in the anterior part or the flank of the abdomen on each side of the fore wing. It has a very mobile triangular head that can turn 180° and large compound eyes set up in the head’s corners, with a visual range of 2–15 m. The binocular vision enables them to judge distance to prey and strike with great speed and accuracy. The prothorax, first part of the thorax section between the head and the abdomen, is very elongated and narrow. Females and males can be distinguished based on the number of abdominal segments – females have six and males have eight abdominal segments. Nymphs lack wings and curl the abdomen over the body. The colouration and pattern in nymphs is very different from adults and they are often mistaken for ants during early stages of development.

Distribution
Found in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and East Africa.

Biology
Green Mantids are hemimetabolous insects, they go through incomplete development (without pupal stage). Nymphs do not have fully developed wings. They are easily recognized by the bright green colour and the abdomen curled up over the body.
They are ambush predators that feed on a variety of insects, including crickets, flies, grasshoppers and moths. Larger species prey on frogs, lizards, fish and even rodents. When they are about to feed, praying mantises lie in wait with the raptorial fore legs raised. However, in some instances, praying mantises would feed on one another.

Image Nymph © BluTuna

Image Nymph © BluTuna

Image Nymph © BluTuna
Garden in Johannesburg

Links: Jacana Education: Lowveld and Kruger Guide; SANBI

Re: AW Insect Book: Mantids (Mantodea) Pics & Descriptions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:04 pm

Cone-headed Mantid Idolomorpha dentifrons
Family: Empusidae

The family Empusidae is a small lineage of mantids, with only 28 described species found mostly in drier regions of Africa and a handful of additional species in southern Europe and SE Asia. The largest mantids are found in the family Empusidae. Empusids are slender and are identified by the spines on their protibia which have alternatively one long spine and two to four shorter spines. They also have leaf-like lobes on the femora.
Male empusids are unusual in having pectinate antennae (comb-like), the kind usually seen in silk moths and other insects with well-developed pheromonal communication, where the female emits sex pheromones and males follow the faint scent trail. Not surprisingly, such behavior was recently demonstrated to be present in empusids.
Two main body types are common – they are either thin and stick-like (the genera Empusa, Hemiempusa, and Idolomorpha) or, while still being rather spindly, the body is covered with large lobes and flaps, making them excellent mimics of dried, shriveled leaves.

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Kruger National Park

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Female

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The fore femora have a specialized grooming device (“femoral brush”).

Description
Idolomorpha dentifrons is large (body length 80 mm) and impressive, similar to Empusa spp, but with even more elongate prothorax, only slightly expanded above fore limbs, the expansion rounded. Head with a pointed vertex.

Distribution
From Mozambique to East Africa.

Habitat
Grassy vegetation.

Biology
They hunt small insects, such as planthoppers and grasshopper nymphs.

Links: Checklist: The Empusid Praying Mantises (Mantodea: Empusidae) of South Africa; Head Shapes in Mantids (in: Frederick R. Prete. The Praying Mantids)

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Kruger National Park, Balule camp

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Female

Re: AW Insect Book: Mantids (Mantodea) Pics & Descriptions

Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:30 pm

Bark Mantid Tarachodes sp.
Family: Tarachodidae

Image © BluTuna
Kruger National Park

Bark Mantids are mottled grey-brown and flattened to closely resemble bark and lichens. Wings attractively reticulated, with dark blotches.

Links: Checklist: The Praying Mantises (Mantodea: Mantidae) of South Africa

Re: AW Insect Book: Mantids (Mantodea) Pics & Descriptions

Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:38 pm

Bark Mantid Tarachodes sp.
Family Tarachodidae. Subfamily Tarachodinae. Tribe Tarachodini

There are 9 similar looking species found in South Africa.

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Attracted to the outdoor light at KTC in KTP in Nov. 2013


Habitat
Usually on tree trunks in the warmer parts of the region. Range extends to Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Biology
Tarachodes sp. move about on the trunks of trees in search of caterpillars and other prey. Several African species show maternal care, with females guarding the egg case for up to 70 days until the nymphs hatch.

Body structure
Their head is triangular and extraordinarily mobile with large compound eyes set very high on the upper corners and three simple eyes called ocelli on top of the head (between the compound eyes).

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Behavior
Most mantids sit quietly and wait for prey to come within reach, but a few species actually chase down their victims. After feeding, they always spend a great deal of time grooming. They use their forelegs to wipe their eyes, heads, and antennae.

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Re: AW Insect Book: Mantids (Mantodea) Pics & Descriptions

Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:19 pm

Double-coned Grass Mantid Episcopomantis chalybea
Family: Tarachodidae
Subfamily Tarachodinae
Tribe Tarachodini
Genus Episcopomantis (Uvarov, 1940)

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Habitat Range
Vegetation in drier regions.
Free State, Gauteng and Northern Province, to East Africa.

Biology
Well camouflaged in dry grasses, where it lies pressed to the stem in wait for insect prey.

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Attracted to the entrance light at KK in KTP Nov. 2012

Identification
Large (body length 50mm). Eyes and corners of head greatly extended into elongate points, giving head a V-shape when viewed from above. Color varies from uniformly straw to brown/green mottling. In this species, the inner margin of the grasping leg has a row of alternating short and long spines; those on the margins of the tibiae are erect and well separated.

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Prey and prey capture
Mantids have fierce predatory habits. They have excellent vision and extremely quick reflexes and are able to strike at and successfully capture insect prey in as little as one-twentieth of a second. They are well equipped to carry out their deadly ambush in that their front legs are liberally furnished with rows of spines. The spines on the femur are slightly tilted in one direction, those on the tibia in another direction so that when the two sections are snapped shut the prey is spiked on a kind of mobile gin-trap - no escape. The long spines on the outermost part of the tibia also act as grappling hooks as they are slung outwards over the prey's body. If suitably sized prey comes into view, the mantid slowly turns its head to view the prey and weigh up the possibilities. As soon as the mantid has judged the distance to the prey, the front legs are thrust forwards, moving as fast as lightening. The whole capture is performed with extreme precision and it is rare that prey escapes the grasp.

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A mantid can strike in whichever direction its head is pointing. They are not fussy eaters and will happily munch away at anything that comes their way, even insects that share their predatory habits, such as assassin bugs and wasps.
When a mantid begins a meal, it starts with the head or neck, thus cutting out any means of struggle from its victim. This may be an important factor, especially when the prey is bigger than the mantid itself.

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Guillotining the head also makes way for the juicier parts - the nourishing tissues that are packed inside the thorax.

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Mantids are thrifty eaters and normally manage even the tough legs and head parts, their jaws chewing away from side to side, processing the food into tiny morsels that will pass down through their rather narrow gullets. A mantids menu consists of moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, flies, beetles, caterpillars and even spiders. They will also eat other mantids.

http://mantids.de/2.html
http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/mantids/biology.htm

Re: AW Insect Book: Mantids (Mantodea) Pics & Descriptions

Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:27 pm

Common Mantid
Family: Mantidae

Image © Pumbaa
Kruger National Park

Common Mantids (Family: Mantidae) are by far the largest family of mantids, containing a wide array of species. Most typical green and brown mantids belong to this family, as do many species that mimic bark. The inner margin of the grasping legs has a row of alternating short and long spines with the eyes usually very large and the wings often reduced, at least in the female.

Links: Checklist: The Praying Mantises (Mantodea: Mantidae) of South Africa

Re: AW Insect Book: Mantids (Mantodea) Pics & Descriptions

Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:23 pm

Twig Mantis Popa spurca spurca
Family: Mantidae. Subfamily: Vatinae

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna
Garden in Johannesburg

Description
Adult females are 7.5–8 cm in length, the smaller males are 6.5–7 cm.
Triangular head with large, laterally positioned eyes distinctive. Between the antennae there are three additional "eyes", called ocelli.
Elongated prothorax. Prothorax and abdomen are almost the same length and the cuticle is very rough and uneven.
The front legs are located in the front area of the prothorax, femur and tibia are covered with spines to hold the prey.

Taxonomic Note
The systematic position of the species of Popa was re-examined by Lombardo F. (1995) and a single species, Popa spurca is recognised. The species is differentiated into two subspecies, one being Popa spurca spurca, widespread throughout all Africa south of the Sahara, except in the east which is populated by the other subspecies, P. spurca crassa.

Distribution
Africa south of the Sahara. Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Northern Province, to East Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and West Africa.

Links: Checklist: The Praying Mantises (Mantodea: Mantidae) of South Africa

AW Insect Book: Mantids (Mantodea) Pics & Descriptions

Wed Dec 31, 2014 7:00 pm

Cone-headed Mantid Empusa guttula
Family: Empusidae. Subfamily: Empusinae. Tribe: Empusini

The family Empusidae is a small lineage of mantids, made up of 9 genera with only 28 described species found mostly in drier regions of Africa and a handful of additional species in southern Europe and SE Asia. It is one of the very few families of mantids known to be monophyletic, and it shows – they all share remarkable morphology that makes them stand out among other members of this singular order of insects.

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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Identification
Large (body length 74 mm), top of head produced into large elongate cone. Antennae with comb-like lateral projections (pectinate) in males, threadlike in females. This characteristic is usually associated with silk moths and species with well-developed pheromonal communication, where the female emits sex pheromones and males follow the faint scent trail. Not surprisingly, such behavior was recently demonstrated to be present in Empusids.

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Female

Greatly elongated prothorax, laterally expanded above origin of forelegs, the expansion semi-circular and bearing teeth anteriorly.

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Spines alternate along inner surface of femur of forelegs, 1 long spine following every 2 - 4 short ones.

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Two main body types are common – they are either thin and stick-like or, while still being rather spindly, the body is covered with large lobes and flaps, making them excellent mimics of dried, shriveled leaves.

Biology
Alert and voracious predator. Often attracted to lights.

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Habitat
Various vegetation types.

Links:
http://thesmallermajority.com/2013/08/25/empusids/