Margaret Neville made a fascinating discovery in her backyard in South Africa on a day in September. A flower mantis, a species of praying mantis that has evolved to look incredibly “floral,” was sleeping among her lavender bushes. Neville discovered a female flower mantis with a distinctive swirl pattern on her back and protrusions that resemble lavender buds along her legs. Neville was astounded by the mantis’ beauty and gave her the nickname “Miss Frilly Pants” in honor of her purple “pantaloons.”
Neville tells us, “Nature is there for us all to share.” Since revealing her discovery, Miss Frilly Pants has gained a large following worldwide. On the Facebook page for the Waterfall Retreat & Environmental Centre, Miss Frilly Pants is featured in photos and a video. The page revealed that the unusual mantis had a male flower mantis as a mate in late September.
Mantis are found in numerous species all over the world. Another variety of flower mantis is the orchid praying mantis. The legs of the females, which are larger and more vividly colored, astonishingly resemble orchid petals. They wait for insects to come to them because they look floral. However, floral camouflage has not evolved in the males. They have dull colors and are smaller. Males must hunt rather than lie in wait because the females’ appearance is a colorful trap for them. Evolutionary researchers believe that among arthropods, this divergence in gendered hunting tactics and its impact on evolution are unique (spiders and insects).
For a flower mantis, the poetic name “Miss Frilly Pants” is appropriate. The “Wandering Violin Mantis,” “Arizona Unicorn Mantis,” and “Devils Flower Mantis” are a few other mantis species with creative names. Miss Frilly Pants and the other members of her species of mantis certainly look as whimsical as their names imply.
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