Leaf Mantid – Africa’s Sci-fi character

Today’s story is about a Leaf Mantid, Phyllocrania paradoxa, found on a bush walk on the game reserve in the northern parts of South Africa.

I personally believe the insect world inspires the science fiction movies of today, taking a closer look at their heads and eyes; they definitely resemble the general alien look!

Triangular head, leaf mantid

Triangular head, leaf mantid

l-mantid

This insect is large with a body length of about 44mm. Sexes differ in appearance. Males are slender and mottled brown with dark shoulders and have a darker cross on their hind wings. The photos below indicate a male leaf Mantid. These insects are a superb mimic of dead leaves, remaining motionless while waiting for prey to within grasp. These Phyllocrania paradoxa are found in sub-tropical vegetation and along forest margins which is where we found this odd creature!

looking like a leaf

looking like a leaf

keeping still

keeping still

up-side-down

up-side-down

Some people wonder if life out in the African Bush can become a bit boring, rather it is quite the opposite and a careful study of peculiar insects like the Hymenopodidae family or even the whole order Mantodea can produce hideous discussions as to why they have extraordinarily mobile heads, large compound eyes that are set high on their upper corners and heavily spined fore legs!

For an almost 6-year old boy the thought of such a small creature being predatory results in an unrelenting series of questions, how do they catch their prey? The Leaf Mantid uses its spiky legs to ambush and grasp live prey.

leaf-mantid7

peek-a-boo

peek-a-boo

leaf-like legs

leaf-like legs

phyllocrania paradoxa

phyllocrania paradoxa

x-files

x-files

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3 Responses to “Leaf Mantid – Africa’s Sci-fi character”

  1. forex robots says:

    nice post. thanks.

  2. Melvin says:

    Wow! That is a funny looking guy/gal…

    I’m very sure that I wouldn’t have spotted it!

  3. Trailsafari says:

    Leaf Mantids are extremely impressive when it comes to camouflage! This one is a guy! 🙂

 
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