Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lichen Mimic - The Grizzled Mantis

One of my favorite insects in the Florida scrub is the Grizzled Mantis (Gonatista grisea). Once in awhile, one shows up at a porch light, perhaps hunting the insects that congregate there.  Notice how he disappears on the bark of a sand pine.

The Grizzled Mantis is a lichen mimic, blending in perfectly with sand pine bark; our predominant pine. The scalloped edges on their abdomen and broken line patterns allow this ambush predator to hide from birds, larger insects, and their prey.

One year, after a hurricane knocked over an old sand pine across our road, I was sawing the tree into pieces with a hand bow saw (chainsaw in pieces on the garage floor). This particular sand pine had a lot of green lichen. My sawing disturbed a green and grey grizzled mantis from its hiding spot. He was quite beautiful and an indication of how much color variability these insects have. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me.

Grizzled Mantis in display/defense posture

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