Praying mantis (New Zealand) Orthodera novaezealandiae)
Scientific name: Orthodera novaezealandiae
Common Name: New Zealand Praying Mantis, Garden Mantis, Green Mantis
The New Zealand Praying Mantis is usually bright green in colour (rarely yellow) with a thorax that is broad and flat and nearly the same width as the abdomen. They have a bright blue and purple patch on the inside of their front legs. They are commonly found amongst garden foliage, were they food ambushes small insects.
They lay eggs in foamy egg case called an ootheca. The ootheca has a woody appearance and has straight uniformed sides. They are usually attached to a leaf, stem, wall or fence.
After serval months the young hatch as smaller versions of an adult. After hatching the tiny mantids’ exoskeletons hardened and so to increase their size the young mantids have to moult. To reach adulthood the young go through 7 moults over 5 to 6 months.
The African species (Miomantis caffra) is not considered a pest species, but it is thought to be displacing the New Zealand native species (Orthodera novaezealandiae) in urban environments of northern New Zealand. When a New Zealand native praying mantis tries to mate with Miomantis caffra, the African species immediately kills it. This is thought to be a reason why the NZ species (Orthodera novaezealandiae) are in decline.
There has been researching done into the pheromone attraction of the NZ mantis male to the SA female.
Sex determination: One can find what the sex is of all species of mantis by counting the abdominal segments. A female mantis generally has 6 segments while males have 8. When counting the segments don’t count the segments that have the wing buds on them (mesothorax/metathorax).
There are 2 main differences in the appearance of the two species found in New Zealand.
The first main difference is body shape.
The NZ Praying Mantis (Orthodera novaezealandiae).
The thorax area between the front legs is as wide as the head and tapers gradually back to the waist.
They are usually green very rarely yellow.
The SA Praying Mantis (Miomantis caffra)
The thorax area between the first two pair of legs is narrower than the head
They are green to pale brown and often larger than the NZ mantis.
The second main difference
The NZ Praying Mantis (Orthodera novaezealandiae) has a vivid blue and purple patch on the inside of its front leg.
The SA Praying Mantis forelegs have 4-6 dark spots on the inner surface of coax. The femur has 2 small, dark, proximal patches.
Other differences between the two species.
The NZ mantises both sexes can fly.
The SA mantises females do not fly.
The NZ female mantises rarely eat the male after copulation (sexual cannibalism).
The SA female mantises usually eat the male during or after copulation.
The NZ female’s abdomen is evenly swollen and are almost completely covered by its wings.
The NZ mantises hindwings are clear on both sexes.
The SA mantises female’s hindwings are small and sometimes are a bright yellow. The male’s hindwings are large and clear.
The SA female’s abdomen is much fatter and protrudes outside its wings. A female cannot fly despite having wings.
The NZ mantises nymphs are coloured green with a strong longitudinal brown band. Their legs are informingly green. The body is straight. Older nymphs are uniformly a bright green.
The SA mantises nymphs are coloured a grey-brown, mottled. The legs are banded. The abdomen is strongly up-curved. Older nymphs are a pale green or a straw brown colour. They often have strong longitudinal stripes and banded legs.
The NZ mantises are generally found on the top side of a leaf.
The SA mantises usually lurk on the underside of a leaf.
The NZ mantises don’t overwinter.
The SA mantis can overwinter in warmer climates.
The photo below shows the difference between Orthodera novaezealandiae (New Zealand Praying mantis) and the African species, Miomantis caffra. Check the inside of the forelegs. The African species have a narrower waist. (Click to enlarge)
Photos below are of a mantis nymph (immature male)
An Orthodera novaezealandiae's ootheca (egg mass) It is smaller and neater than the introduced African mantis and the cells are visible. The African egg mass has a tapered end and has a foam-like covering.
The NZ one when fresh have a white fluffy net over them. They also have figure 8 shaped cell entrances.The case below is one day old.