Friday, February 08, 2013

Not a pest of the month: praying mantises

This post is about a group of beneficial insects – the praying mantises. I occasionally see mantises on my bonsai trees, but last month I spotted immature mantises of two different species in a span of few days. They were the Garden Mantis (Orthodera ministralis image above left) and the False Garden Mantis (Pseudomantis albofimbriata image above right). I have photographed these species before and images below show how adult females of these two species look like (Garden Mantis is 4 cm long, False Garden Mantis is 6 cm long).

Praying mantises in your garden is good news for your bonsai. Bonsai are small plants, which makes them more vulnerable to attacks by herbivorous insects. In the invertebrate community of your garden, praying mantises are alpha predators standing at the top of the food chain. Their presence indicates a healthy and functional ecosystem. Mantises mostly prey on herbivorous insects, which means fewer herbivores damage your bonsai. Garden Mantis and False Garden Mantis are not the only mantis species I’ve seen in my backyard. Below are images of two other species I have seen in the past. The left image shows the Purple-winged Mantis (Tenodera australasiae) probably the largest species in Sydney area (adults 10 cm long). The right image shows a very small species Kongobatha diademata (2 cm long). 


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