Praying mantises are fascinating creatures – get to know the cryptic mantis

They are so tiny and delicate that they can easily be mistaken for a cobweb.

“PRAYING mantises are my absolute favourite group of insects and I take a particular fancy to the ones with amazing camouflage.”

These are the sentiments of nature enthusiast, Warren Dick, who is also a pastor, and passionately photographs nature. One such mantis that remains almost invisible to predators and prey alike is the cryptic mantis, sibylla pretiosa.

The cryptic mantis is a small species of praying mantis, only measuring about six centimetre in total length as an adult.

These mantises are found in Southern Africa and are quite common in the Durban area.

“I find them in the forests of the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, where they live on the bark of trees, taking on the same shade of brown. They are so tiny and delicate that they can easily be mistaken for a cobweb, in fact, if spotted they will often start swaying their body in the wind, just like a loose cobweb.”

As a nymph (immature), their abdomen looks like a crumpled up dead leaf, as and adult, they have wings over their abdomen that also look like dead leaf. They have an unusually long and thin prothorax.

“I particularly like the little crown on their heads.”

Like all other praying mantises, the cryptic mantis is carnivorous, feeding mostly on flies.

If you would like to contact Warren to have some of your interesting spiders, snakes or other wildlife identified, call or WhatsApp him on 072 211 0353. Follow the conversation on Facebook, Warren’s Small World.


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