Mantids, Mantises, Praying Mantids
Compiler and date details
2007 - minor update, ABRS
1998 - John Balderson, D.C.F. Rentz & Alison M.E. Roach, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Mantodea are commonly called mantids, mantises or praying mantids. They are readily distinguished by their generally elongate body form, the freely movable head and strongly armed raptorial forelegs. Similar raptorial forelegs are found in the neuropteran family Mantispidae but these insects can be distinguished by the similarity of the fore- and hind wings and the wings being closed tent-wise over the abdomen when at rest. Metamorphosis is hemimetabolous.
Morphological features of major taxonomic significance for determination of genera and species of Mantodea include the spination of the anterior legs, the shape and adornment of the head and pronotum, and the morphology of the male genitalia. The oothecae are usually species specific and are often parasitised by proctotrupoid and chalcidoid Hymenoptera.
Mantodea reach their greatest diversity in the tropics with numbers and species decreasing rapidly with increasing altitude and latitude. In Australia, they are found in a wide variety of habitats from the arid interior to the wet tropics. They are most diverse in northern parts where there is a strong Indo-Malaysian element and where many genera and species are shared with New Guinea.
Major studies on courtship behaviour, territoriality and defensive behaviour have been conducted in other countries (see MacKinnon 1970; Edmunds 1976a, 1976b; Loxton 1979). Although these studies are applicable and are frequently of taxonomic significance to the Australian mantid fauna, no similar studies have been undertaken here.
The world mantid fauna consists of more than 1900 species in nearly 400 genera and eight families. The Australian fauna comprises three families, five subfamilies, 37 genera and some 160 species. Many genera and species need redefining and future systematic studies could yield a further 30 to 40 species. For instance, in the genus Ciulfina Giglio-Tos, the senior author has identified, on the basis of male genitalia, at least 15 species groups which include two major north/south clines. About two-thirds of the genera found in Australia, but none of the families or subfamilies, are endemic.
Most of the work on the Australian fauna has been piecemeal with most of the genera and species described in foreign journals by overseas workers. Major contributions include descriptions by Sjöstedt (1918), Saussure (1871a, 1871b, 1872), Wood-Mason (1877–1889), Giglio-Tos (1912–1927), Werner (1912–1933) and Beier (1929–1968). Also of importance are the fascicules of the Genera Insectorum published by Wytsman between 1911 and 1935 with contributions by various authors, particularly Giglio-Tos and Beier. As a result, most of the type material is located in overseas (particularly European) institutions. The only significant studies from within Australia are those of Tepper (1896, 1904, 1905) and Tindale (1923, 1924, 1930).
The first significant monograph, by Giglio-Tos in 1927, regarded the group as a family (Mantidae) in the order Orthoptera. Other workers, such as Chopard (1949), regarded the Mantodea as a suborder of the order Dictyoptera along with the Blattodea. The fossil record, although sparse, indicates a common Palaeozoic ancestry with the Blattodea. The Mantodea is nowadays more generally recognised as a separate order. Further discussion of this issue can be found in Kevan (1977) and Roy (1987).
The classification most widely accepted, and followed here, is that of Beier (1964, 1968) but see also Balderson (1991). Eight families are recognised, three of which occur in Australia. Four species recorded from Australia in early literature are regarded as doubtful because of the lack of further records and known affinities with genera that do not occur here.
This section of the Zoological Catalogue of Australia database, from which the published work was derived, was prepared at CSIRO Entomology, Canberra where resources and facilities were made available to us.
The authors wish to thank the curators of the many institutions holding Australian mantid types for their assistance in verifying the status of the species listed. We wish also to thank Mr Jon Prance of the CSIRO Black Mountain Library for assistance and time spent with the literature search.
The illustrations used in the family introductions in the published work, except for Hymenopodidae, are from Balderson (1991). They were reproduced with permission from the CSIRO Entomology and the Melbourne University Press. The illustration of Hymenopodidae was prepared for ABRS by Mr G. Milledge of the Museum of Victoria.
Funding was made available for this project by the Australian Biological Resources Study. We also thank the Editors for help in the compilation of this work.
The information on the Australian Faunal Directory site for the Mantodea is derived from the Zoological Catalogue of Australia database compiled on the Platypus software program. It incorporates changes made to the work published on 2 September 1998 as (Balderson, J., Rentz, D.C.F. & Roach, A.M.E., 1998). Addition of new taxa by ABRS, June 2007.
Common names are taken from Naumann (1993).
Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.
Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.
Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.
Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.
Balderson, J. 1991. Mantodea (praying mantids). pp. 348-356 in CSIRO (ed.). The Insects of Australia. A textbook for students and research workers. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press Vol. 1 xiii 542 pp.
Balderson, J., Rentz, D.C.F. & Roach, A.M.E. 1998. Mantodea. pp. 251-278 in Houston, W.W.K. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Archaeognatha, Zygentoma, Blattodea, Isoptera, Mantodea, Dermaptera, Phasmatodea, Embioptera, Zoraptera. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing, Australia Vol. 23 xiii 464 pp.
Beier, M. 1964. Blattopteroidea Mantodea. pp. 849-970 in Bronns, H.G. (ed.). Klassen und Ordnungen des Tierreichs. Vol. 5 Arthropoda, Part III Insecta, Book 6, Number 5. Leipzig : Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Geest & Portig K.-G.
Chopard, L. 1949. Super-Ordre des Blattoptéroides. Ordre des Dictyoptères Leach, 1818. Sous-Ordre des Mantodea Burmeister, 1838. pp. 386-402 in Grassé, P.P. (ed.). Traité de Zoologie. Anatomie, Systématique, Biologie. Insectes. Paris : Masson & Cie Vol. 9.
Kevan, D.K.McE. 1977. The higher classification of the orthopteroid insects. Memoirs. Lyman Entomological Museum and Research Laboratory 4(Spec. Publ. No. 12): 52 pp., App. 26 pp.
Naumann, I. 1993. CSIRO Handbook of Australian Insect Names. Common and Scientific Names for Insects and Allied Organisms of Economic and Environmental Importance. Melbourne : CSIRO Publications v 200 pp. [Date published 31/12/1993]
Tepper, J.G.O. 1905. Insects collected in the north-western region of South Australia proper by H. Basedow; with descriptions of new species of Mantidae and Phasmidae. No. 2. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 29: 237-245
Werner, F. 1912. Mantodea und Phasmatodea. pp. 47-56 in Michaelsen, W. & Hartmeyer, R. (eds). Die Fauna Südwest-Australiens. Ergebnisse der Hamburger südwest-Australischen Forschungsreise 1905. Jena : Gustav Fischer Vol. 4(3).
Werner, F. 1928. Zur Kenntnis der Mantodeenfauna des Hinterlandes von Kamerun und des Sepikgebietes von Neuguinea. Nebst Beschreibung einiger interessanter Arten aus anderen Landern. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 14: 12-41
Werner, F. 1933. Prof. Dr. E. Handschin Studienreise auf den Sundainseln und in Nordaustralien 1930–32. Einige teilweise neue asiatische und australische Mantodeen. Revue Suisse de Zoologie 40: 441-447
Wood-Mason, J. 1877. On a small collection of orthopterous insects of the families Phasmidae and Mantidae from Australia and New Britain, with descriptions of four new species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 20: 74-77
Wood-Mason, J. 1889. A Catalogue of Mantodea with Descriptions of New Genera and Species, and an enumeration of the specimens in the collection of the Indian Museum, Calcutta. No. 1. Calcutta : Indian Museum 48 pp.