Meet Zompro’s Stick Insect

I got a new species of stick insect! I never had this one before. Many people like very brightly colored stick insects, but I also love the camouflaged ones. My first species where all plain stick-like looking, so I’ve kept a special place in my heart for them. The new species I have is Zompro’s Stick Insect, latin name Parapachymorpha zomproi. PSG 224.

I’ve made some pictures to share with you here. You can read more about this species at it’s own page Zompro’s Stick Insect / Parapachymorpha zomproi

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What I like of this species is that the female has two tiny horns on its head. It reminded me of Medauroidea extradentata. I was doubting if I did not just find a different variant of Medauroidea extradentata, but the lobes on the legs and that the horns on the head where so short did not add up. Finally I managed to ID it as Zompro’s Stick Insect / Parapachymorpha zomproi.

New species description

For some time I was without any stick insects as pets, but now I could not resist to start again. I got some beautiful Necroscia annulipes specimens. Two males and two females. This species is so beautiful. The colors are amazing. I took some pictures today. To read more about this species, check out Necroscia annulipes.

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Adult male Necroscia annulipes

Adult male Necroscia annulipes

Adult male Necroscia annulipes

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Funny perspective on this female

For more pictures you can check out The Necroscia annulipes page.

male showing its wings

Male showing its wings (after some coaxing)

The mantis that looks like a dried leaf

There are many mantis species that mimic dead and dried leaves. It’s good camouflage in their natural habitat. But in my opinion, one mantis species is the master of disguise when it comes to leaves: the Dead Leaf Mantis Deroplatys desiccata. Even its Latin name has to do with dried leaves, desiccata means dried.

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Female Dead Leaf Mantis

This is an adult female Dead Leaf Mantis. The females are the best  in looking like a leaf. That’s because they are much larger than the males and have longer leaf-like flabs on their body. The males of this species also look like a leaf, but much less so, as they need to be more aerodynamic as they fly. Females do not fly and thus don’t need to weight in the pros and cons of looking more like a leaf. They go all-in!

Adult female Dead Leaf Mantis on my hand

Adult female Dead Leaf Mantis on my hand

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Adult female Dead Leaf Mantis

The males still look like a leaf, but much less so:

Adult male Deroplatys desiccata

Adult male Deroplatys desiccata

If prefer to photograph the females of the Dead Leaf Mantis. I just think they are beautiful. To read more about this mantis species, check out their page.

Deroplatys desiccata

Deroplatys desiccata

Pretty in Pink – Meet the Orchid Mantis

hymenopuscoronatusThe orchid mantis is one of the most amazing praying mantis species in the world. It is amazing because of it’s bright pink and white colors. You would think that an insect does not want to stand out – you know, danger of being eaten by a bird, chameleon or other insect-eating animal. Dressing in bright pink might not be the best choice then. But as soon as you see it, you will realise that this praying mantis has another plan… it mimics a flower making it perfectly camouflaged for anything that is not looking for a flower to eat. Next to the colors the body shap is made just like a flower. The legs have big round petal-like shapes on them, the body has a little green stripe making the body outline looking less like a bug. The mantis keeps her arms tucked in, helping to keep the non-insect look. Animals that are looking for a tasty bug will not look too closely at flowers. And little insects looking for a flower? They will be eaten by the praying mantis.

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Pink and white praying mantis

The females of the orchid mantis are the pretty ones. The males are small and lack color, but the females are big, bright pink with white and their legs look like flower petals.

Click on a picture to see it enlarged.

Tiny 3D glasses for mantis experiment

Scientist are interested in the freakiest things. And sometimes I’m interested in that too. For example praying mantis 3D vision. If you own a pet mantis you can see that it probably does have excellent 3D vision. How could it otherwise grab a fly perfectly out of the air? Or why would it rotate it’s head like it does if not for a clear 3D view with both eyes? But everything is speculation until you prove it. That’s what scientist at the Newcastle University did. With tiny 3D glasses they proved that praying mantises have and use 3D vision.

The article describing the research:

The praying mantis is the only known invertebrate with 3D perception, however this fact was originally proven in the 1980s using prisms and occluders, which only support a limited number of images. Scientists want to deepen their understanding of the insect, so they’ve taken this research a step further by testing a few mantises with tiny 3D glasses. A team from Newcastle University created a miniature cinema in the hope that the insects would move when they perceived 3D images with the appropriate lenses. The trick worked, but only with a specific kind of spectacles.

Read the rest of the article here

Newcastle University research into 3D vision in praying mantises by Dr. Vivek Nityananda. Pic: Mike Urwin. 151015

Newcastle University research into 3D vision in praying mantises by Dr. Vivek Nityananda.
Pic: Mike Urwin. 151015

Source: Newcastle University

Video

How do stick insects defend themselves?

Stick insects are the favorite food of many animals. All sorts of birds, lizards and mammals like to eat a tasty stick insect. How does one prevent to be eaten?

There are a few different methods for that:

  1. Camouflage

    To prevent being noticed by predators, a stick insect can look like a stick or leaf. Most stick insects use this method to prevent being eaten.

  2. Spikes and thorns

    Some stick insect species have spikes and thorns all over their body. This makes them difficult to be eaten by small predators. Some stick insect species can even pinch with spikes located on their hind legs, sometimes allowing them to fight off a predator.

  3. Scary sounds and colors

    Some species of stick insect are able to produce sounds with their wings or legs. This can deter predators, especially predators that are young or that are unsure if a stick insect is proper food for them. Most stick insects with bright colors are also poisonous.

  4. Being poisonous

    Poisonous stick insects are toxic when eaten. There are no venomous stick insects (they have no toxic bites or stings). Unually the toxins also taste bad. Poisonous stick insects often have bright colors, so the predator is warned before it takes its first bite. The toxin could be deadly to the predator, but usually it just makes the attacker feel sick or irritated. Some stick insects, like Peruphasma, can spray an irritating substance from glands on their back onto their attacker. This can irritate skin and eyes, allowing the stick insect to deter predators long enough to escape.

The following video shows a stick insect with bright colors. It also produces a warning sound with its wings in the video. The species name is Achrioptera fallax and it is a poisonous species.

It’s time to visit the Monarch Butterfly

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Monarch Butterfly with its wings closed

You probably know the Monarch Butterfly. Either you have seen it yourself, or you have seen one of the hundreds of pictures, drawings or commercials featuring this butterfly. It’s a beautiful bright orange butterfly with jet black markings and a few white accents on its wings.

It’s most famous for its migration. The Monarch Butterfly flies from the United States and Canada all the way to Central Mexico. The migration happens in August and October. This means the butterflies are arriving at their overwintering sites in Mexico around now. Why don’t you visit them? It’s something you will never forget. The butterflies can be found in Mexico between mid October until mid March.

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Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary

If you are visiting Mexico you should definitely stop by at the Monarch Butterfly Natural Reserve. To see millions of butterflies flying all around you is a truly amazing sight. You can see the butterflies in the area close to the city Morelia.

Morelia is in the center of this map

Morelia is in the center of this map, left from Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico)

Want to read more about nature tourism at the Monarch Butterfly reserve? Read our page about the Monarch Butterfly.

Taking care of a wild praying mantis

empusaMany people email me with questions about a praying mantis they have found in their garden, patio, shed or in their house. A wild praying mantis has found its way into the house through an open window or door and decided it’s a good place to stay. A mantis can survive pretty well inside the house if there are enough flies or other bugs to eat. If not, you can better release it back outside to the garden or a park.

But what if you want to keep your praying mantis as a pet? Especially when the temperatures start to drop it can be better for the mantis to live as a pet than to stay outside. The natural way of live for a mantis in countries like the USA or Europe is to die in fall when the temperatures drop and prey becomes scarce. As a pet, with enough food, a nice temperature and proper care a praying mantis can live well into winter.

To get you started I collected some interesting articles that I wrote for you.

That are the basics for taking care of a mantis. Now your have found your mantis, you might also be curious if it is a he or a she. You can try to figure that out using our guide Male or Female Mantis?

Common Praying Mantis Species in the United States

Then the species. There are so many mantis species, which one do you have? Or at least, if you cannot find the exact species, you would like to know what kind of mantis you have. I will try to help you out with showing the most common species in the USA.

Is it an European Mantis?

An European Mantis is green or brown, has a “classic mantis” shape and has some striking dots and colors on the inside of their front arms. An European Mantis can be found all over the USA thanks to being introduced there from Europe. It can also be found in the Southern and Eastern countries of Europe. Do you thing you have found an European Mantis? Check the European Mantis page out to know for sure.

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European Mantis female – green version

Is it a Carolina Mantis?

A Carolina Mantis can be found all over the United States, not just the state of Carolina. It is a very common mantis in the USA and also occurs much further south, all the way to South America. A Carolina Mantis can be green or brown in color, the male is much smaller than the female. The female has wings that only reach to half its abdomen, making it look very different from other mantis species. Check out the Carolina Mantis page if you think you have found a Carolina Mantis.

Carolina Mantis

Carolina Mantis adult female

Carolina Mantis adult male

Carolina Mantis adult male

Is it a Chinese Mantis?

A Chinese Mantis is also pretty common in the United States because it was released there as a pest control agent. It can be green or brown in color and looks pretty similar to the European Mantis. An imporant difference is that the Chinese Mantis does not have any coloring inside the front arms. It just has an uniform bland color without yellow, black or white spots. Do you think you have found a Chinese Mantis? Nice! Check out our Chinese Mantis page to know for sure.

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Female Chinese Mantis

Is it an Unicorn Mantis?

The Arizona Unicorn Mantis or Pseudovates arizonae is a very special mantis species that is not found easily. It occurs naturally in the United States and Canada but is most common in the state of Arizona. I will show you a picture, if you have seen it you will know for sure you have found an Arizona Unicorn Mantis.

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Not yet adult Arizona Unicorn Mantis

Which mantis species did I find?

Cannot find the description of a mantis that looks like the one you found? Send me a message with picture! I will try to figure it out for you. You can also check our Mantis Species page.

Top 5 mantis species for beginners

If you like insects and especially praying mantises, keeping a mantis as a pet can be a lot of fun. It will give you time to study the mantis better, watch it grow and develop, make amazing macro pictures of it and observe its hunting behavior. But which mantis species is suitable for someone who never kept insects as pets?

What is the best mantis species for beginners?

Not every mantis species has the same needs. Some species are easy to keep because they can live in a wide variety of environments: its not easily too cold or too hot and they are not as sensitive to air humidity and food quality. Other species are very picky and won’t thrive if you are not on top of their precise requirements. If you are just starting out as a beginning insect keeper, it is hard to be on top of all the details. You have to check so many things, it can be overwhelming.

So for beginners I would advice praying mantis species that:

  • Are easy too keep because they don’t require too much special care
  • Are big and calm so they can be easily handled
  • Are easy to find in the pet trade

So, which species do I recommend for beginners? Here is the top 5 mantis species for beginners:

Continue reading

Still there are new mantis species being discovered

You would expect we would know the earth and what lives on it by now. But that’s not the case, there are still new species to be discovered. Last year a new mantis species has been discovered in Rwanda, Africa. Not even a previously know species in a different area or country, but a new species alltogether.

Scientists found it in Rwanda’s mountainous Nyungwe National Park. This species got the name Dystacta tigrifrutex, a name inspired on a bush tiger. The researchers found out that the female of this mantis hunts like a tiger. They claim it does not sit and wait until a prey walks by, but actually walks around untill it stubles upon a prey insect. It will then approach carefully and attack. Only the female has been seen showing this behavior, the male is much smaller and lives in the foliage. The female hunts on the ground.

Adult female Bush Tiger Mantis - Image credit Tedrow R et al

Adult female Bush Tiger Mantis – Image credit Tedrow R et al

The scientists found the new species by setting light traps. As described on my page here, a light trap is a white sheet on which strong light is pointed. At night all kinds of moths and other flying insects are attracted to the light and will land on the white sheet. One day a male of the new bush tiger mantis species landed on the sheet and was recognized as a new species. Later a female was found too. Luckily for the researchers she produced an ootheca which hatched dozens of nymphs. In that way they could observe all live stages of the new species of mantis and confirm that the male that was found was really the same species.

It makes me wonder how much is still out there… For the insect enthousiasts that want to breed or keep mantises, this species is not the best to be kept as a pet. It is very small and brown without any interesting extra features.

Source: http://entomologytoday.org/