16 May 2016

Lappet Mantis – Abqaiq Wetlands

Whilst birdwatching at Abqaiq Wetlands in early May I came across a mantis in the and dunes of the reserve. The mantis was identified by Mansur Al Fahad as a Lappet Mantis Empusa hedenbergi and I thank him for this. This mantis is one of several very similar Empusa species found in Arabia. All are attracted to light at night and are often seen on walls with moths and other creatures. During the day they sit amongst vegetation in wait for prey where their shape and colour provide perfect camouflage. The adults live from March to July and pass the winter in the last larval stage. Isolated adults appear even in winter, especially in the warmer districts where the development is perhaps somewhat accelerated. The large green species with white stripes is easily recognised. Its similarly colored larvae are conspicuous because of the erect position of their toothed abdomen. They occur in the Arabian Peninsula in Oman, United Arab Emirates as well as Saudi Arabia and their almost perfect camouflage makes them very difficult to see. The only reason I saw this one was because it moved across the sand and the movement attracted my attention.
Lappet Mantis