New Mantis Species Discovered in Rwanda


Female: Dystacta tigrifrutex

On a collecting trip to Rwanda in May of 2013, Riley Tedrow found both a male and female specimen of a new species of mantid, which he subsequently named Dystacta tigrifrutex. Tedrow, a Case Western Reserve University undergraduate, was part of a team of researchers led by Dr. Gavin Svenson.

Tedrow’s work in identifying the new species was published on May 20, 2014 in ZooKeys. Read more about this discovery and view photos from the trip on the CMNH web site.

New Pub! Revision of Liturgusa, 3 New Genera & 19 New Species

A new publication by Gavin Svenson in ZooKeys describes the revision of genus Liturgusa, as well as the identification of three new mantid genera and 19 new species. Svenson is the Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which also posted a news release about these discoveries. Dr. Svenson describes this research in this video.

New Pub! Wieland 2013

Wieland, F. 2013. The phylogenetic system of Mantodea (Insecta: Dictyoptera). – Species, Phylogeny & Evolution 3,1: 3-222.

Praying mantises (Mantodea) are a charismatic group of raptorial insects. Their main distribution encompasses the tropical and subtropical regions of the world where they have conquered almost every habitat including the sandy deserts. Mantodea are well-known to the public. Their highly moveable heads and an impressive appearance, ranging from conspicuously colourful to well-camouflaged and plant-like, add to their popularity.

Despite their often fantastic looks and interesting behaviour, Mantodea have been mostly neglected by science in the past century. A renaissance of praying mantis research by both molecular and morphological means has recently started to contribute immensely to our understanding of these fascinating insects and their evolution.

This volume presents the first phylogenetic analysis of Mantodea based exclusively on an extensive morphological dataset comprising the description and detailed discussion of 152 morphological characters for 122 species from the greater part of the taxonomical subgroups. Observations on fossil mantises, postembryonic development, and sexual dimorphism are considered for tracing character evolution, and the results are compared with the latest molecular findings.

The structures of many rare taxa are shown in detail for the first time, including the forelegs of Chaeteessa, Mantoida, and Metallyticus. Selected characters and their evolution are elucidated in further detail, for example head processes, asymmetrical male antennomeres, female digging structures, and the aberrant foreleg morphology of Chaeteessa and Metallyticus. Hypotheses on the early evolution of the mantodean lifestyle are presented.

This monograph contains more than 460 figures, including detailed drawings and SEM images of morphological structures, making this volume the most comprehensive work on mantodean morphology to date.

Wieland 2013 cover

New Pub! Rafter et al. 2013


1. Monarch caterpillars, Danaus plexippus (Linnaeus), feed on milkweed plants in the genus Asclepias and sequester cardenolides as an anti–predator defence. However, some predators are able to consume this otherwise unpalatable prey.

2. Chinese mantids, Tenodera sinensis (Saussure), were observed consuming monarch caterpillars by ‘gutting’ them (i.e. removing the gut and associated internal organs). They then feed on the body of this herbivore without any apparent ill effects.

3. How adult T. sinensis handle and consume toxic (D. plexippus) and non–toxic [Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner) and Galleria mellonella (Linnaeus)] caterpillars was explored. The differences in the carbon/nitrogen (C:N) ratio and cardenolide content of monarch tissue consumed or discarded by mantids were analysed.

4. Mantids gutted monarchs while wholly consuming non–toxic species. Monarch gut tissue had a higher C:N ratio than non–gut tissue, confirming the presence of plant material. Although there were more cardenolide peaks in the monarch body compared with gut tissue, the total cardenolide concentration and polarity index did not differ.

5. Although T. sinensis treated toxic prey differently than non–toxic prey, gutting did not decrease the mantid’s total cardenolide intake. As other predators consume monarch caterpillars whole, this behaviour may be rooted in species–specific vulnerability to particular cardenolides or simply reflect a preference for high–N tissues.

Rafter, J.L., Agrawal, A.A. & Preisser, E.L. 2013. Chinese mantids gut toxic monarch caterpillars: avoidance of prey defence? – Ecological Entomology 38(1): 76-82.