Menagerie Monday: Return of the Native (almost)

Early last week CD was sitting in her favorite spot on our screen porch when she noticed a small movement near her shoulder. She called me to have a look and I saw that our visitor was a very tiny mantis, less than ¼ inch (about 6 mm) in length, or about the size of a small mosquito. It was a real challenge to get a good photo, but I did manage a few worth sharing. As I was looking at my results, I thought, to my great delight, that it was a native (Orthodera novaezealandiae), the first I have seen in years. An invasive competitor from South Africa (Miomantis caffra or Springbok mantis) has unfortunately been flourishing here, and it seems that their females appear to be more attractive to the native males than the native females; this attraction usually proves fatal. We think that it was a native since it had a wide-ish, flattish thorax with a fine purple dorsal stripe. As they grow older, a characteristic electric-blue spot appears on each femur. In my garden explorations, when I spot mantis egg cases, or oothecae, I find that the vast majority belong to the invasives. They are larger and creamy in color, whereas the native oothecae are smaller and brown.   I have been waiting a long time to see another of these most-welcome garden guests. And, as it turned out, this was actually not a native after all. See my next post for the correction.

About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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20 Responses to Menagerie Monday: Return of the Native (almost)

  1. Much better a garden guest than a garden pest. You did a good job getting in close to an insect that’s no more than 6mm long. What the mantis is standing on doesn’t look at all shouldery, so we assume you moved your subject.

    • krikitarts says:

      Yup, the handiest thing was a rather faded bouquet of mums. It seemed to quite enjoy exploring them before I put it out into what I hope was a relatively safe place in the garden.

  2. Mike Powell says:

    What a cool-looking mantis. It is so small that it probably would have been impossible to detect if it had not moved.

    • krikitarts says:

      There are usually around 50 eggs in the native’s ootheca, from which usually several dozen hatch. All typically hatch within a few days (compared with widely-spaced hatching for the Springboks), so I hope to see more of these nymphs in the next few days.

  3. Vicki says:

    Wow! Excellent shots of such a small insect. I never would have seen this tiny mantis at all.

  4. After a night’s sleep it occurred to me that in light of your post’s title this native mantis must have been a hardy specimen.

  5. Meanderer says:

    Super photos of such a tiny creature, and how wonderful that CD spotted it! How nice to discover that it is a native specimen.

    • krikitarts says:

      Thanks for the kind words, M–and, yeah, it was nice while it lasted. It turns out it wasn’t a native after all. Oh, well, I still have high hopes that one or more will yet come my way.

  6. shoreacres says:

    Well, native or not, it’s quite marvelous. I’m astonished that you could get such detailed photos, and I’m equally taken with the detailed creature itself.

    • krikitarts says:

      The mantids are fascinating creatures, whatever their origin. Although they are serious competitors for the field here, they have not (yet) been tagged as critical pests. Time will tell, and I have a pretty good idea what the educated consensus will be.

  7. There are so many nice details on this mantis, and quite different from the green species. Super shots, Gary!

    • krikitarts says:

      I appreciate that very much, Pete. As long as I can still find signs of a healthy native population (and follow our Dept. of Conservation recommendations), I’ll continue to take them in stride.

  8. Adrian Lewis says:

    Beautiful pictures, Gary, and very interesting detail re the two species. :)

  9. Cool little mantid, Gary. I’ve haven’t had the opportunity to photograph one in a few decades. Cute one too.

  10. bluebrightly says:

    Native or not, it’s quite an amazing creature, and kudos for managing to get such great photographs of an insect most people would not even notice.

    • krikitarts says:

      Thanks, Lynn–it’s great fun to rise (or, rather, I should say stoop) to the challenge of seeing these little folk eye-to-eye, and it helps so much when they agree to stick around for a while and the wind cooperates with its relative absence.

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