During the first rains of the wet season I found this large mantis resting low in a bush covered in rain droplets. It belongs to the genus Neodanuria, a cryptic and sleek mantis with two angular projections behind the eyes. I’ve been rearing her for about a month and a half, and she has since been named Artemis by my friends. Several weeks ago she finally molted into an adult, changing from a yellow-brown color to metallic silver. Being a large mantis, she prefers to take prey that is substantial in size. She constantly eyes the Sibylla and Popa, even the Parasphendale, and sometimes I wake up to hear her striking the edge of her cage in hopes of getting at the others. When feeding her a prey item that is too formidable or unappealing, such as a sausage fly (male Dorylus driver ants), she sometimes initiates a threat display, expanding her tiny vestigial wings and extending her forearms outward to face the perceived threat. The interior of her forearms have faint yellow and black spots, which may also help elicit a startle response in an avian or reptilian predator.

Like most mantids, Neodanuria is sexually dimorphic. Males are smaller and thinner, inhabiting grasses and low shrubbery. When females transition into adulthood they may inhabit more sturdy substrates including twigs and branches. The male’s abdomen extends far past its delicate wings, curved like a piece of grass, while the female’s is so robust and dark that it resembles that of a phasmid. Both sexes rest facing upwards with the arms fully extended, with one or two raptorials open at a time. When disturbed they position the arms along the body axis and stiffen, rigid to any poking and proding. Sometimes they may leap to the ground to crawl over to another patch of vegetation.

All photographed after capture under controlled conditions [5]

Adult female (left) and male (right) Neodanuria

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