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Invertebrate of the Week #10 – Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii)

Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii) by Frupus via Flickr (Source: http://goo.gl/lVKIhT)
Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii) by Frupus via Flickr (Source: http://goo.gl/lVKIhT)

Meet the spectacular Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii) which hails from Africa.

P. wahlbergii is a member of a polyphyletic group of mantises referred to as flower mantises which employ of a combination of morphology and behavior in an aggressive mimicry of flowers.  Measuring at just 3 – 5 cm in length, this mantis is small and anecdotal reports from hobbyists seem to indicate a preference for small pollinators like bees and flies over larger prey items, though it is allegedly capable of seizing and killing prey bigger than itself.  Like other flower mantises, P. wahlbergii hunts by locating a suitable flowering plant, climbing one of its branch, and waiting for an unfortunate pollinator to approach.  It then uses the lighting-fast reflexes characteristic of mantises to snatch the insect from the air before it realizes its fatal mistake.

Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii) by Frupus via EOL/Flickr (Source: http://goo.gl/fTZxkE)
Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii) by Frupus via EOL/Flickr (Source: http://goo.gl/fTZxkE)

When threatened, P. wahlbergii exhibits deimatic behavior, a threatening and startling response intended to discourage predators.  The mantis spreads out its body, raises its forelimbs, and opens its magnificent wings to expose patterns which resemble two large eyes.

Though spectacular as an adult, the juvenile forms are much less conspicuous.  Bearing a black coloration, it is has been said that they are diminutive and may be mistaken for ants.

Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii) by Frupus via EOL/Flickr (Source: http://goo.gl/qBHuy0)
Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii) by Frupus via EOL/Flickr (Source: http://goo.gl/qBHuy0)
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