The Incredible Camouflage masters: Praying Mantis species

Hilary Haarhoff’s friend, Phillipa de Zeeuw from Cowies Hill in Durban,  captured these amazing photographs of the Eyed-flower Mantid (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi) in her garden. Note the incredible camouflage of this creature.  It has a large body, 42mm, attractively mottled in pinks, browns or greens with prominent circular eye-like marking on each fore wing.  It has large lateral extensions on abdomen.  The wingless nymphs (shown in photos)  are spectacularly ornamented and striped with pink and green and carry the abdomen curled above the body.  This species mimics flowers and ambushes visiting insects.  When threatened nymphs can expand the raised abdomen to reveal a single dorsal eyespot.  It occurs on flowers and in vegetation, KZN to Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

The pic below of the Giant Mantid or Common Green Mantid (Sphodromatis gastrica) nestling in a Natal Lavender tree was captured by my husband. It has a large body, length 55mm, robust and bright green, usually with a white spot near anterior corner of each fore wing.  Sides of abdomen may be mauve and yellow.  Females are  much fatter than males.This species is unusual that diet consists mainly of caterpillars. The normally occur on foliage of trees and shrubs in domestic gardens and a variety types of undisturbed vegetation.  One of the most common species in the region.