Preying Mantises (Mantodea)

There are over 2,400 species of preying mantises. These live worldwide in both temperate and tropical environments. Most preying mantis species live about 1-2 years. Preying mantises are notable for their ambush strategy of predation. This means they spend lots of time standing perfectly still, so they also need to employ camouflage to make sure they are not eaten themselves. Their enlarged forelegs are quite strong and even have sharp spines to help them hold their prey. They have chewing mouthparts to help them crunch through the exoskeletons of their prey. Most species are active during the day, but they may fly at night. Preying mantises are visual hunters and can swivel their head 180° to view their prey. Preying mantises lay their eggs in egg cases called ootheca. They are closely related to cockroaches.

African Twig Mantis

Popa spurca

The African Twig Mantis is an African species that mimics small twigs. At rest, they extend their forelegs out in front of themselves to elongate their body and enhance their twig-like appearance.

Ghost Mantis

Phyllocrania paradoxa

The Ghost Mantis is a species from Africa that is closely related to the Flower mantis. The ghost mantis resembles dead leaves, which gives it superb camouflage. At rest they will sway back and forth, giving the impression of dead leaves blowing in the wind.

Budwing Mantis

Parasphendale affinis

The Budwing Mantis, native to Africa,  gets its name because the females have very short wings. When threatened, this species will spread its wings and legs, displaying the bright colors on the inside of its forelegs and on the underside of its wings to startle potential predators.

Thistle Mantis

Blepharopsis mendica

This mantis is native to North Africa and is often found hunting prey on flowers. When threatened, this species will spread its wings and legs, displaying the bright colors on the inside of its forelegs and on the underside of its wings to startle potential predators.

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