We usually associate insects with ugliness and creepiness. To most of us, they are scary and repulsive creatures that are only “good” because we’ve read that they are sometimes beneficial to the environment and to crops in particular.
Praying mantises are no exception to that perception – most of us view them as terrifying predators with strong pincers. And the main thing people remember about them is that the females eat the males’ heads after procreating with them.
If you’ve watched some environmental TV channels in the past, you might know that praying mantises can also be stunningly beautiful. And if not – check out this gorgeous “Flower Mantis” a woman from South Africa found in her garden.
Margaret Neville found the beautiful bug in the lavender bushes in her back yard. She almost missed it because of the realistic floral camouflage the mantis was sporting. Neville dubbed the insect “Miss Frilly Pants” when she posted its pictures online and the name is indeed fitting.
Experts have confirmed that the insect is a female as only female mantises use camouflage – it’s a part of their hunting tactic which has them sitting still and waiting for their victims to fall for their trap.
Male flower mantises, on the other hand, don’t have such camouflage and are plain in color – they hunt more proactively by chasing down their victims. The males of most mantis species also tend to be smaller than the females. Experts point out that this gender divergence in the physique and hunting techniques is typically only for certain anthropods (insects and spiders) and is rarely seen in other species.
This does put a rather sinister note on Miss Frilly Pants’ beauty but doesn’t diminish it in any way. And besides, praying mantises are actually very beneficial insects for our gardens and properties. These expert trappers and hunters prey on many of the unwanted pests that often plague our backyards such as mosquitoes aphids, and caterpillars. Other additions to their diet include crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and even moths. Some of the largest praying mantis variations can even feed on tree frogs, small rodents, nesting birds, and lizards, but those praying mantis species are only found in southern and tropical climates.
Plus, mantises like this flower mantis aren’t harmful to humans as they’re not poisonous or venomous. At worst, they might pinch you if they feel threatened but if you’re gentle and careful you can even handle them without a problem like Margaret Neville did.
If you’re looking for something more than pictures, Neville also shot a nice video and posted it on Facebook for others to see.