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I found this praying mantis crawling around on the front porch this afternoon. It seems rather large at roughly 6cm in length. I have seen quite a few of these around the house (both inside and outside) and couldn’t resist taking a picture of such an awesome insect.

New Zealand praying mantis – Orthodera novaezealandiae

Note the distinctive bright blue patches visible on the inside of the raptorial fore legs. Also, though a bit difficult to see in these images, the pronotum is the same width as the head. These characteristics seem to be evident in the native New Zealand praying mantis, Orthodera novaezealandiae.

Orthodera novaezealandiae

Appearently, there are only two species of mantis in New Zealand: the native Orthodera novaezealandiae and a recently introduced (ca. 1978) Springbok Mantis or South African mantis, Miomantis caffra. According to Landcare Research, Orthodera novaezealandiae occurs only in New Zealand.

According to Landcare Research, the invasive, introduced South African mantis, Miomantis caffra, which mainly occurs in the North Island, continues to spread across the country as shown here (PDF 899KB). According to An Illustrated Guide to some New Zealand Insect Families, by Elizabeth A. Grant (ISBN 0-478-09326-8), “the pronotum [of the South African mantis, Miomantis caffra] is very slender and therefore narrower than the width of the head.” (pg.30) Also, according to Landcare Reasearch, the South African mantis, Miomantis caffra lacks the distintive bright blue patches on the raptorial fore legs as evident on the New Zealand mantis, Orthodera novaezealandiae.

Furthermore, according to The Penguin Natural World of New Zealand: An Encyclopedia of Our Natural Heritage by Gerard Hutching (ISBN 0 14 301925 2), even though it appears European mantid copulations frequently result in decapitation of the male by the female, this behaviour does not seem to be the habit of the New Zealand mantis, Orthodera novaezealandiae. (pg. 277)