FAMILIES OF MANTODEA OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
R. A. Cannings and G. G. E. Scudder
Copyright © 2005 - All rights reserved
Description of Family
Family Mantidae (praying mantids)
The family Mantidae contains over one-quarter of the world’s mantid species. Two genera live in the province, each with one species. The ranges of the species are restricted; until the late 1990s, no mantid was known to live in the wild outside the Okanagan Valley.
Litaneutria minor (Scudder), the Ground Mantis, is widespread in the drier regions of North America from Mexico, Texas and California north to North Dakota and British Columbia. It is the only mantid native to Canada, where it is a rare inhabitant of the extreme southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Its rarity, restricted range and the vulnerability of its grassland habitat have put it on the provincial Red List. Records are all from the Oliver and Osoyoos areas and range from mid-July to early October.
The Ground Mantid adult is less than 35 mm long and is grey-brown to dark brown. When perched motionless in a sagebrush, it looks much like a twig. The females have reduced wings, one-third or less the length of the abdomen. Males are fully winged; the hindwing has a dark spot.
Litaneutria is primarily a ground dweller and it can run with great agility. It also climbs low vegetation, especially Big Sagebrush and Antelope-brush. Flying males are most often found at lights at night. Females lay small rectangular egg masses, about 7 mm long, on the stems of shrubs. The eggs overwinter and hatch 25 to 30 weeks after laying. Nymphs mature in about 13 weeks.
Mantis religiosa Linnaeus (European Mantis, Praying Mantis) was introduced to eastern North America in the 1890s and into the Okanagan Valley (to control grasshoppers) in 1938-39. For many years it was scarce, but since the 1970s it has become common, especially between Okanagan Falls and Osoyoos. In the 1990s the European Mantis spread northwards to the Vernon. In 1999, it was collected in the wild on Vancouver Island at Maple Bay, where it appears to have become established, probably from locally released specimens. This species, unlike the Ground Mantis, lives in tall, rank vegetation bordering fields and roads and in uncultivated fields. Females lay large, oval eggmasses on twigs or flat surfaces; the eggs overwinter and adults appear in August. Adults are 47-56 mm long; there are brown and green forms. Both sexes are fully winged.