Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spiny Flower Mantis

One morning in between lessons in the bush in Tarangire with 10 guide trainees this April, this beautiful creature caught my eye hanging out on a stalk of grass next to a flower; no doubt waiting in ambush for the insects visiting the flower. I got my camera out and snapped a couple shots wishing I had a macro lens to get in really close. The Spiny Flower Mantis, known to entomologists as Pseudocreobottra wahlbergi, particularly fascinated me because of the asymmetrical swirl pattern on its back. The majority of multi-cellular animals belong to a group of animals called the bilaterians, meaning they are supposed to be bilaterally symmetrical. Of course, another lesson from the bush- never jump to conclusions. As the mantis decided it had had enough of me sticking my Nikon in its face it flew off revealing that it was in fact symmetrical with the eye spots on both wings. Eyespots are far more common on moths of the Saturnid family, and their purpose is a form of mimicry, making the moth look like the face of an owl. I wonder if the swirly eyespots on this mantis served the same purpose or if their beauty served to dazzle their predators.

No comments:

Post a Comment