Rare Mantises in Spain: A Closer Look at Lesser-Known Species

Rare Mantises in Spain: A Closer Look at Lesser-Known Species

Mantises, commonly known as “Praying Mantises,” are fascinating insects that can be found in various regions of Spain. Some of the more common species, such as the Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa), European Dwarf Mantis (Ameles spallanzania), African Mantis (Sphodromantis viridis), and Conehead Mantis (Empusa pennata), are often encountered in the country. However, Spain is also home to several rarer species of mantis. These include unique species such as the Geomantis larvoides, Rivetina baetica, Pseudoyersinia canariensis, Blepharopsis mendica, Pseudoyersinia paui and Perlamantis alliberti, which are less commonly observed but are nonetheless intriguing and worthy of study. In this article, we will delve into these rarer mantis species found in Spain and explore their characteristics, distributions, and habitats. So, Rare Mantises in Spain: A Closer Look at Lesser-Known Species.

Geomantis larvoides – Wingless ground mantis
Rare Mantises in Spain: A Closer Look at Lesser-Known Species
Geomantis larvoides – Wingless ground mantis

Geomantis larvoides, commonly known as the Wingless ground mantis is a small species of mantis that is found in Spain and other parts of Southern Europe. If you spot one, then the lack of wings and the four spots along the back should help with identification. This species is typically found in grassy areas and shrublands, where it relies on its excellent camouflage to ambush its prey.

A few images and a Spain distibution map of Geomantis larvoides can be found on the website of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility: https://www.gbif.org/species/1406353
Insectarium Virtual images: https://www.biodiversidadvirtual.org/insectarium/Rivetina-baetica-(Rambur-1838)-cat2920.html

Rivetina baetica – Baetican mantis
Rivetina baetica - Baetican mantis
Photo by Simon Oliver

Rivetina baetica, also known as the “Baetican mantis,” is a medium-sized species of brown or gray color. More abundant in Mediterranean coastal areas of the Southern Iberian Peninsula, especially in dunes of beaches or very dry, sun-exposed places. Males with wings and tegmina (Tegmina are typically hardened, leathery, or parchment-like, and serve as protective coverings for the hindwings) extending to the end of the abdomen.

Females are brachypterous (The term “brachypterous” refers to a condition where an insect’s wings are shortened or reduced in size, typically resulting in the insect’s reduced ability to fly or complete flight.) Pronotum elongated and finely serrated on the edge, graceful “raptorial” legs with an inner spot.

A few more images at Insectarium virtual: https://www.biodiversidadvirtual.org/insectarium/Rivetina-baetica-(Rambur-1838)-cat2920.html

Pseudoyersinia canariensis
Pseudoyersinia canariensis

Pseudoyersinia canariensis, commonly known as the “Canary Island mantis,” is a rare species of mantis that is endemic to the Canary Islands. This species is known for its distinctively long and slender body, with wings that are typically mottled with shades of brown and green. Pseudoyersinia canariensis is found in a variety of habitats in the Canary Islands, including forests, shrublands, and rocky areas.

Looking at the distribution map the island of Las Palmas would be the more likely if you wanted to find one of these mantis (image credit): https://www.biodiversidadcanarias.es/biota/especie/A04461

Blepharopsis mendica
Rare Mantises in Spain: A Closer Look at Lesser-Known Species

Blepharopsis mendica, also known as the Egyptian flower mantis, thistle mantis, and Arab mantis. It is a rare species of mantis that has been found in the Canary Islands. Known for its striking appearance, with large, colorful eyespots on its forewings that resemble the eyes of a mammal. Blepharopsis mendica is typically found in arid regions, such as deserts and rocky areas, and is known for its aggressive hunting behavior.

When defending itself, the adult rotates its head and thorax to one side, displaying the bright colours on the insides of its forelegs and the undersides of its hindwings, and holds its wings slightly spread behind the body, making it seem large and threatening. This is known as a deimatic display.

There is a good distribution map here (image credit): https://www.biodiversidadcanarias.es/biota/especie/A04457

Pseudoyersinia paui – Pau’s Dwarf Mantis
Pseudoyersinia paui
Photo by Carlos Del Pico – mating Pseudoyersinia paui. Castellón-Arteas de Abajo/Arriba – Fuente del Gamellón. “I would like to thank Jose Correas, as without his knowledge, I would have never been able to locate the rarest species of mantis in the Iberian Peninsula.”: https://www.flickr.com/photos/26650972@N08/6232193120/in/photostream

Pseudoyersinia paui is the mantis with the most restricted distribution in the Iberian Peninsula. It is endemic to the Maestrazgo region, between Castellón and Teruel, although it is also believed to possibly occur in Almería and the Canary islands?. Commonly known as “Pau’s Dwarf Mantis”, It has a unique appearance, with its slender body and distinctive coloration that ranges from shades of green to brown. Pseudoyersinia paui is typically found in grassy areas and shrublands, where it uses its excellent camouflage to blend in with its surroundings and catch its prey.

Perlamantis alliberti – Stonefly Mantis
Perlamantis alliberti - Stonefly Mantis

Perlamantis alliberti, also known as the Stonefly Mantis is known for its small size (it fits on the top of your thumb!) and unique coloration, with shades of green and brown on its body and wings.

A distribution map is here: https://www.gbif.org/species/1403590
More images here: https://www.gbif.org/occurrence/2901678283

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