Winter months are normally dull and dusty, and as a student or trainer at Bushwise Field Guides you feel like part of the winter background with your “all khaki” uniforms. However, with the sights of the impala lilies in full flower it cheers you up and you appreciate the pink and white flowers that present winter with an amazing contrast.
Unnoticed, we were all wandering around one day around these amazing flowers and spotted a small purple nymph on one of the stems. With close observation over a period of almost a month we noticed that it turned into a beautiful praying mantid.
It is called the Eyed-flower Mantid (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi). It is an attractive coloured and distinctive large praying mantis with prominent eye-like marking on its forewings once fully grown. Wingless nymphs are ornamented and striped, often to match the colour of the flower they are sitting on. They mimic these flowers and ambush and grasp insects that stray past them with their specially modified forelegs.
This spectacular one is attractively mottled in pink, as others can be brown and green, with prominent circular eye-like marking on each forewing.
They also have a hemimetabolic life cycle (Incomplete metamorphosis). This type of life cycle (exopterygote) consists of eggs, nymphs and adults, but no pupae. In certain insects the nymph may resemble the adults more or less in appearance and lifestyle.
It also displays bright colours and eye patterns on its wings as a warning signal to birds and reptiles who may be potential enemies (threat display to frighten off attackers), and also has the ability to see in colour. When threatened, nymphs can expand the raised abdomen to reveal a single dorsal eyespot.
When spotting Impala liles again, keep an eye open on all the flowers and you might be surprised to spot one of these amazing little creatures.
Till next time
- Almero & TheBushwise Team