Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Tree Runners






In most parts of Australia one or more species of mantid can be found on tree trunks. They are cryptic with colours and patterns which aids in ambushing small prey. These mantids are extremely fast and dart to the opposite side of the tree or branch when discovered. Egg cases (oothecae) are deposited in cracks in the bark.

The top photo is a nymph of the genus Ciulfina, a commonly encountered genus with many species in the Australian tropics. They usually perch head downwards with the body flat against the tree not casting a shadow. This one is ready for a quick escape. The late John Balderson discovered that males exhibit asymmetrical genitalia, with some males oriented one way and others that have a mirror image of this complex. After dark these mantids move from tree to tree over the adjacent vegetation as in the second photo.

The bottom photo is Calofulcinia oxynota La Greca, a delicate rainforest species. Males are long-winged and frequently show up at lights. Females are flightless and live on mossy rocks.

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