Spiny flower praying mantis

Spiny Flower Mantis (Wahlbergii Mantis): The Astonishing Beauty

Have you ever seen a predator so captivating it could take your breath away? The Spiny Flower Mantis embodies this paradox perfectly. With its vibrant colors and delicate appearance, it resembles a blooming flower. However, a closer look reveals a cunning hunter with spiny limbs, ready to ambush its unsuspecting prey. Join us as we unveil some interesting facts about this insect.

Spiny Flower Mantis
Scientific name: Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mantodea
Family: Hymenopodidae
Genus: Pseudocreobotra

They have a stunning appearance

The Spiny Flower Mantis, officially called Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii, is a remarkable member of the flower mantis family. This family is famous for their flower camouflage ability, like the Orchid Mantis. These insects are a spectacle of nature, displaying a wide range of colors, including white with green stripes, yellow, pink, and many more. These colors can change to match with their surroundings. How cool is that, right?

Spiny Flower Mantis or the Wahlbergii Mantis

Their most notable feature is the long, spiked abdomen, from which they derive their name. These spikes are usually white but can vary in color among individuals. Like our fingerprint, the pattern in the wings of each mantis is unique.

Their forewings often have a salmon base, decorated with patterns that can resemble the numbers 6 or 9, in shades of yellow, brown, green, or black. You can see the dark spot on their wings resembling an eye. This adaption helps scare off predators by imitating the appearance of an eye, like the Io Moth. Meanwhile, their hind wings are typically clear, though they might show various colors or patterns. It’s often mistaken with the Jeweled flower mantis due to their similar appearance.

These Wahlbergii Mantises have a size of about 3 – cm in length, with the females being larger and wider. They also have wings that nearly reach the back end of their bodies. On the other hand, males have longer and thicker feelers (antennae) and their wings go beyond their bodies. Like all mantises, females have 6 segments on the bottom part of their body (sternites), while males have 8.

These spiny praying mantises have big eyes that can be bright colors. Their eye color can change from purple to different shades like deep purple or lilac, depending on the light. This helps them hide among flowers. They also have two strong front legs to grab their prey. These flower mantises can fly but for brief distances.


The Spiny Flower Mantis lives in many places in southeastern Africa, including countries like South Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zambia, Kenya, and some parts of Transvaal.

Pink spiny flower mantis

This type of mantis can be found in different kinds of habitats, such as forests, grassy areas, dry places, and even in wet spots like meadows and areas with lots of shrubs and flowers.

Spiny Flower Mantis Diet

Spiny Flower Mantises are ambush insects that hide and wait for their food to come close. Usually, they eat small flying insects, like flies, beetles, and mosquitoes. Sometimes, they might also eat small lizards or spiders. Besides these, they include fruits, leaves, and nectar in their diet.

To catch prey, they quietly stay still on a flower or plant, blending seamlessly in their environment. Then, when insects like bees or flies get into their reach, not noticing the mantis, they quickly grab them out of the air. Even though they usually go after smaller insects, Wahlbergii Mantises can also take on animals bigger than they are, like adult locusts.

These species are hunted by some predators like birds or spiders. To defend themselves, Spiny Flower Mantises develop a unique defense mechanism. When threatened, they stretch out their legs and spread their wings wide to show off bright yellow colors and a big eye-like spot on their front wings. This can make predators think twice before coming any closer.

Life cycle

The Spiny Flower Mantis goes through a fascinating process to start their life. After mating, the female lays eggs in a special case called an ootheca, which is dark, long, and sticks to surfaces. This egg case can hold up to 200 eggs.

Here’s how they do it: First, the mantis spreads a sticky liquid on the surface. Then, using a spinning motion, it releases more of this liquid while laying the eggs into it. Each egg gets its own space in this setup. After all the eggs are in place, the liquid stretches out into a thread and then hardens. This creates a tough, sponge-like cocoon around the eggs to keep them safe.

About 2 to 4 weeks after the eggs are laid, little Spiny Flower Mantis babies called nymphs hatch. Initially, these nymphs are black. They keep this black color until they molt the 3rd time. After reaching this stage, their color starts to change. They begin to show orange and pink spots and gradually become whiter with each molt.

Spiny Flower Mantis nymph
The nymph stage of this species. Source

The young spiny orchid mantis doesn’t have wings yet. So, to protect themselves, they own an orange spot that looks like an eye on their belly. If they feel threatened or scared, they stand tall and show this “eye” as a way to scare off any predators.

The nymphs shed their skin about every two weeks. As they get older and closer to becoming adults, the time between these molting stages gets longer. When it’s time to shed, a mantis will hang upside down, sometimes shake a bit, and then slowly wriggle out of its old skin to reveal a new one underneath.

Male Spiny Flower Praying Mantises become adults after shedding their skin 6 times, while females need to do it 7 times. But even after they’ve grown up, they can’t mate right away. Females are ready to mate 4 weeks after their last molt, but males are ready in just 1 week. They usually mate in late summer or early fall because the weather is warm and there’s a lot of food available.

Compared to other mantis species, Spiny Flower Mantis have quite a long lifespan. They can live for about 10 – 14 months.

Reference: insektenliebe.com


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