Many mantids will frequent the tops of tall grasses and flowers in hopes of snagging unwary flying insects and pollinators, and this budwing mantis (Parasphendale cf. affinis) was no exception. Ivy is lucky to have many nymphs of this genus residing in her greenhouse — though they are not the most welcome guests for her work on the African queen butterfly. Over a month ago she gave me a subadult mantis that was lurking in the dense nectar oasis. After almost two months the mantis refused to begin her final molt, and it wasn’t until a catastrophic flood in the house (and a noticeable increase in humidity), that she successfully made the transition. Budwing mantids are so named because of the female’s reduced wings, though this trait is common throughout mantids. They are a robust genus with a large triangular head and have mottled stripes along the outer forearms as well as orange and black on the interior for use in defensive displays. Now that she is full grown, my Neodanuria stick mantis no longer transfixes on her as potential prey, and the budwing’s thick raptorials allow her to easily restrain more difficult prey items including hawkmoths.
Photographed after capture under controlled conditions