- Family: Mantidae
- Scientific: Ameles spallanzania (Rossi, 1792)
- English: European Dwarf Mantis
- Spanish: Mantis Enana Europea
- Distribution: Southern Europe, Morocco, Algeria
The European Dwarf Mantis (Ameles spallanzania) Mantis enana Europea is a very small mantid, around 1cm-3cm that lives in low vegetation in warm, dry places. Their colour can be green, grey or brown to help them blend into their surroundings. The females cannot fly and only possess small wing vestiges. The males have working wings which are as long as the body and so the overall look is very different between the sexes. Unlike the much larger common Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) the female of this species does not cannibalise the male whilst mating. Their tiny oothecas (egg cases) are often attached to the base of a rock.
The female European Dwarf Mantis has a very broad abdomen which is invariably curled upwards and their eyes have a pointed appearance.
The above image to the left shows the slightly pointed eyes and shape of the pronotum of Ameles spallanzania, the image to the right shows a different Ameles species (picteti) with more rounded eyes and a pronotum which narrows towards the body. The colours vary within the same species and therefore are not indicative of type.
The below image shows the tiny ootheca of an Ameles species at just 1cm.
There are other Ameles species found within Spain and they are very similar, making identification very difficult especially with the males. The head shape and also that of the pronotum (shield type neck cover) are important areas to study to help in identification. So if you come across a European dwaf mantis that doesn’t look quite right then have a google for…..
- Ameles decolor is a yellowish to gray mantis, sometimes with black spots. It has a slender body and in adults the abdomen is always kept straight.
- Ameles assoi is a species similar to Ameles decolor but with more conical eyes and a more triangular head (more evident in females). For some authors it is synonymous with Ameles picteti. Others consider them separate species. Ameles assoi has the pronotum dilation in the middle of the pronotum. The distribution also seems to be different being typical of the center of Spain.
- Ameles picteti is similar to Ameles assoi in color but with more conical eyes and a more triangular head (more evident in females). For some authors it is synonymous with Ameles assoi . Others consider them separate species. Ameles picteti has the pronotum dilation before the middle of the pronotum. The distribution also seems to be different, being typical of southern Spain.
Ameles heldreichi, Ameles africana and Ameles abjecta are also present in the Iberian peninsular.
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