Except for three heads of lavender-coloured blooms, the buds are mostly still tight on the Sagewood shrubs (Buddleja salviifolia) in our garden. When looking to see if any more blooms had opened I was delighted to discover a small Flower Mantis nestled in the tiny flowers of one of the flowerheads.

Ever since my neighbour invited me to see three Flower Mantises on a rose bush in his garden (see here), I have been on the lookout for these intriguing creatures and this is the first time I have noticed one in our garden.

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The upturned abdomen of this Spiny Flower Mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergii), also known as the Eyed-Flower Mantis, indicates that it is still a nymph and has not yet developed its adult wings. It takes about seven moults for a nymph to reach maturity. This tiny creature, aware of my presence, turns its head to watch me

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Because these creatures are shy I photographed it from a distance, zooming in to try to get a close-up shot

Flower Mantids flower-like appearance enable them to be effective ambush hunters, attracting pollinating insects to within close range so that they can then seize and grasp their victim, using their long spiked forelegs.

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After first spotting this Flower Mantis I went back to check on it and saw that it had caught a bee that it was grasping in its forelegs as it ate it. Amazingly, the event attracted a group of small flies that can just be seen in flight in this photograph

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The Flower Mantis is making short work of the bee it caught, devouring it quickly. However, as can be seen in this photo, some of the flies also settled on the bee as the mantis eats

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The Flower Mantis grasps the bee tightly as it eats. By now the wings of the bee have been detached and soon the Mantis drops the exoskeleton, which is all that remains of the bee. The eye-like marking on the thorax, characteristic of this species of Flower Mantis and giving rise to its alternative name – Eyed-Flower Mantis –  can be seen in these photos

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After its meal, the Flower Mantis spent some time cleaning its forelegs, face and antennae. Here it is settling down for another long wait for its next meal

 Posted by Carol

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