Sure, you've heard of the Praying Mantis. But have you met its cousin, Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii, also known as the Spiny Flower Mantis? We stumbled upon its photo during an image search and had to find out more. Here are a few things to know about this beautiful, terrifying-looking insect.
1. This tiny bug measures between 1 to 2 inches and is native to Southern and Eastern Africa.
2. Nymphs, like the one shown above, have an upturned abdomen. Adults have a large yellow spiral eyespot on their forewings.
3. When they're first born, nymphs are mostly black and look almost like ants.
4. Nymphs will molt approximately every two weeks; the time between molts gradually increases as the mantids get closer to adulthood. During molting, a mantis hangs upside down, sometimes shaking, and eventually wiggles out of its skin. It takes seven molts for a female to reach maturity, and six molts for males.
5. When threatened, the insects raise their forewings, which makes them look like a much larger creature with big, golden eyes. This is called a deimatic display, and it looks like this:
I wouldn't want to run into that guy in an alley—would you?
6. Instead of searching for prey, P. wahlbergii prefers to snatch its meals—usually pollinating insects—from the air:
7. Females have small spines on the edges of their wing cases; males do not. The male has slightly longer antennae and eight segments on its abdomen (females will have six or seven). An easy way to tell males from females is to look at the length of their wings: A female's wings will reach to the end of her abdomen, while a male's wings will extend past it.
8. Like other mantis species, the Spiny Flower Mantis is cannibalistic. As usual, it's the males who have the most to fear; the website MantisKingdom.com recommends feeding the female before putting a male in the cage behind her:
As she is busy with eating, she can't grab him or throw him off of her. After a while of holding on, the male will bend his abdomen down to connect with hers and mating will commence.
After the deed is done, the site suggests getting the male out of the cage quickly, or else he'll become a meal.