The Diversity of African Mantis: A Closer Look

The African mantis refers to several species of praying mantises that come from Africa. It is a fascinating insect known for its unique appearance and intriguing behaviors. Let’s have a look at these species to have an overview of their general characteristics, but remember, specific traits can vary among different species.

African mantis overview

African praying mantises generally have a slender, elongated body typical of many mantis species. They often display various colors, usually green or brown, helping them blend with their natural surroundings. Some species may have patterns that resemble leaves or bark. Like other mantis species, they have a triangular head with large, compound eyes, and their front legs are adapted for grasping prey, with spines to hold it securely.

They are found throughout various regions of Africa, living in a range of environments. Their habitat preferences can range from dense vegetation, like bushes and trees, to more open areas.

African mantis - a group of many mantis in African

African praying mantises are primarily predatory. Their diet typically consists of a variety of insects such as flies, crickets, moths, and sometimes they may prey on small vertebrates. They typically use a sit-and-wait strategy, relying on their camouflage to ambush prey. They use their powerful front legs to capture and hold their prey while eating.

African praying mantises go through three main stages in their life cycle. The female lays eggs in a foam-like substance called an ootheca, which hardens to protect the eggs. After hatching, they emerge as nymphs. The nymphs go through several molts as they grow. The final molt reveals the winged adult form. The lifespan of African mantises varies, but most live for about 6 months to a year.

Types of African praying mantis

  • Giant African mantis (Sphodromantis viridis)

The Giant African praying mantis is a large and striking species of praying mantis native to Africa. With a size of 10 cm in length, it is one of the largest mantis species. However, only females can reach this size, males are much smaller. Despite its name, which means “green” in Latin, this mantis can actually be green or brown. They have white spots on their front wings.

With this look, the insect is often mistaken for the European mantis. But you can tell them apart thanks to the yellowish coloring on the front legs of the African mantis. The Mantis religiosa doesn’t have this feature.

This African praying mantis comes from West Africa below the Sahara Desert. However, it has also been introduced to places like Spain and Israel.

Giant African mantis (Sphodromantis viridis)

  • South African mantis (Miomantis caffra)

The South African mantis measures about 3 – 6 cm in length with green or brown coloration. Their hind wings are usually brown, green, or bright yellow. You can occasionally see hints of pink or purple near the base of their front wings. There are dark spots on the inner surface of the front legs.

As the name suggests, this praying mantis is native to Southern Africa. However, these insects can be found in America, New Zealand, and Portugal. In New Zealand, the mantis is called springbok mantis. This species is known for its adaptability and can be found in a variety of habitats, ranging from grasslands and bushveld to gardens and urban areas, where it preys on other insects.

  • African Boxer Mantis (Otomantis scutigera)

The African boxer mantis earns its name from its habit of spinning its arms in circles when startled. This mantis is relatively small compared to other mantis species, measuring about 3 cm in length. It boasts a distinctive brown coloration and protrusions on its front legs.

Native to Africa, this species can be found across various countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Somalia, and others. It usually lives in trees, bushes, and places where there aren’t a lot of plants around.

African Boxer Mantis (Otomantis scutigera)

  • African grass mantis (Oxyothespis dumonti)

The African grass mantis is native to the grasslands and arid landscapes of North Africa. This species has a slender body, predominantly brown, helping it to blend into the linear forms of dry grass blades and foliage in its habitat.

  • Comon green mantis (Sphodromantis gastrica)

The common green mantis is known for its vivid green coloration, which serves as excellent camouflage in its natural habitat. Predominantly found in various parts of Africa (Nambia, Congo, South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc), these mantises thrive in environments that offer dense vegetation, such as forests, gardens, and grasslands. The adult mantises can grow up to about 7 to 8 cm in length, showcasing a slender and elongated body structure characteristic of their species.

  • West African mega mantis (Plistospilota guineensis)

The West African mega mantis is a remarkable species known for its impressive size. Females can grow up to 11-12cm in length, while males are equally striking, reaching sizes of 9-10cm.

Its body is a mix of brown and green, but what truly stands out are its vibrant wings. The inner part of its wings displays a stunning array of colors: the front wings are orange-red, while the hind wings boast striking black stripes.

Found in West Africa, this species originates from various regions including Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Guinea.

West African mega mantis (Plistospilota guineensis)
Source: gottesanbeterin
  • Central African mantis (Sphodromantis centralis)

The Central African mantis lives in the dense and lush habitats of Central Africa. This mantis thrives in environments that offer both the humidity and vegetation cover essential for its survival, including tropical forests and densely vegetated areas.

In terms of appearance, the Central African mantis boasts a long, striking green body, which aids in blending seamlessly with its natural surroundings. Its wings, although present, are more for display and short glides than for long-distance flight. The detailed texture of its body, often mimicking leaves and branches, along with its adaptive coloration, makes the Central African mantis a master of disguise in its native habitats.

  • African bark mantis (Tarachodes)

The bark mantis, also known as the ground mantis, is a species within the Tarachodes genus, belonging to the Eremiaphilidae family, primarily found in Africa. With over 60 species, including the Tanzanian ground mantis, they are adept at blending into their surroundings.

Their heads are wider than their chest, which is rounded at the front. They have light brown bodies with silvery wings that have intricate patterns, allowing them to blend seamlessly into tree bark. Some species have brightly colored undersides to scare away enemies.

African bark mantis

  • African praying mantis (Sphodromantis lineola)

The African praying mantis Sphodromantis lineola is a remarkable insect renowned for its unique predatory skills and fascinating behavior. Native to various parts of Africa, this species is distinguished by its striking appearance, featuring a robust body with a prominent, triangular head and large, compound eyes. It is primarily green, aiding in camouflage among foliage, with some variations displaying brownish hues.

  • African twig mantis (Popa spurca)

This species is a type of stick mantis. As you can see, it has an elongated body that mirrors the shape and color of dry or living twigs. Its body coloration ranges from brown to gray. These features serve it well in its natural habitats across Africa. It has a size of about 8 cm in length, with the males being smaller.


Animal Facts 276

We are passionate animal enthusiasts with over a decade of experience studying animals. With a degree in zoology and conservation biology, we've contributed to various research and conservation projects. We're excited to bring you engaging content that highlights the wonders of the animal kingdom. We aim to inspire others to appreciate and protect wildlife through informative content grounded in expertise and passion. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of animals and discover the incredible stories they have to tell.

Leave a Comment