Other common names: Springbok Mantis
Scientific name: Miomantis caffra
The South African Praying Mantis is a species which is native to South Africa. They are commonly found in bushes and trees.
The South African Praying Mantis was discovered in New Zealand in 1978, and is thought to be displacing the New Zealand native species (Orthodera novaezealandiae) in northern New Zealand.
Appearance / health:
Adult South African Praying Mantis are usually 32-60 mm long, and are a pale green or brown in color. The male (Miomantis caffra) is smaller than the female, and is able to fly.
cool pet, ceaseless meditation, insect pets, interesting bugs
KoiSan people, old fish tank, beneficial insect species
South African Praying Mantis
The praying mantis features prominently in the mythology of the Koi-San people of Southern Africa, but that is not why I keep them.
In recent decades, the overuse of pesticides has killed off dozens, if not hundreds of beneficial insect species, and species such as the mantis, both the carnivorous and vegetarian ladybugs, some wasps, and many others have all but disappeared from suburban gardens and homes. So, when I bought my property thirty years ago, all my attempts to harvest fruit from the newly established orchards were in vain. None of my neighbours used their land for any sort of farming, and while they regularly won gardening competitions, they did so through the use of huge quantities of insecticides that killed of the insect and invertebrate populations for miles around.
By the time my small orchard was eight years old, I had not harvested as much as a wheel barrow load of fruit from more than a hundred trees because of the huge numbers of fruit flies in the area. There was nothing for it- I had to find a way to combat the flies by biological means, since I refused to use chemical means. What I did sometimes notice on my trees though, was some praying mantisses, and although I did not know how to keep or breed them, I enlisted the help of my friend the vet. Unfortunately, he knew even less, but referred me to a local, world-famous entomologist who lived only a few miles from me who after weeks of soft soaping, agreed to breed some of my mantisses for a small fee.
However, the fee was not quite as small as I had hoped, but a deal was struck, and some months later I took delivery of about 2000 mantisses just as my fruit trees were coming into flower. The result was dramatic, and immediate. My trees only shed about ten percent of their blossoms, and by the time the fruit had set, I was ensured of a bumper crop. Almost no fruit got stung by flies (since they had all been eaten by the mantisses) and after the harvest, I had to give away several truckloads of fruit since I could not hope to use it all myself. Even better, my neigbours noticed a dramatic decline in the numbers of aphids in their gardens, and even the ubiquitous red ants of the area disappeared, being deprived of the aphids as a food source.
Today, twenty years later, we have almost no harmful insects in the area, and my mantisses have all become pets. To keep them during the mild winters we have, I have long since planted 30 citrus trees, on which vast hordes of prey insects descend when the other trees shed their leaves. I have also taken some mantisses into my house, where they keep the mosquitos under control, and although there is some competion between them and the geckos for food at times, we are all one big, happy family.
I never handle a prying mantis for fear of hurting it, but somehow I do not think they mind not being handled. However, I am certain that a praying mantis would make an excellent pet if it was kept in a suitable enclosure or cage, but I have never attempted it. To the Koi-San people, a praying mantis is the earthly manifestation of the Supreme Creator of all Living Things, which to my mind, is reason enough not to keep them caged up..
From reinier1 May 6 2015 6:11AM
Master Praying Mantis
The Praying Mantis! Odd creature, humbling in nature nonetheless. I'd had insect pets before so I used an old fish tank I had previously used to house my Spiny Leaf.
It was fun and rather profound having this insect as a pet - I don't want to sound too zen but if you would notice the Mantis about its daily business (mine was mostly hanging from a branch and sometimes swaying back and forth) you'd see a guru in a ceaseless meditation, haha so I called mine Master, just - Master.
It was also pretty zen doing something I've done before with other insects that didn't seem zen back then which was misting the soil/grass/substrate on the bottom of the tank. It seemed like raindrops in slow motion, and the Master was unmoved in his meditation..
It truly is a cool pet to have, provided you have the time and patience to take good care of it by monitoring the enclosure, feeding it (it also eats live food, this I found interesting - bugs will do!) and generally spending some time watching it go about it's way, you'll truly learn something profound.
From zeekmathis Apr 14 2013 7:47PM