Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps


Mantids, Mantises, Praying Mantids

Compiler and date details

2007 - minor update, ABRS

1998 - John Balderson, D.C.F. Rentz & Alison M.E. Roach, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Mantodea are commonly called mantids, mantises or praying mantids. They are readily distinguished by their generally elongate body form, the freely movable head and strongly armed raptorial forelegs. Similar raptorial forelegs are found in the neuropteran family Mantispidae but these insects can be distinguished by the similarity of the fore- and hind wings and the wings being closed tent-wise over the abdomen when at rest. Metamorphosis is hemimetabolous.

Morphological features of major taxonomic significance for determination of genera and species of Mantodea include the spination of the anterior legs, the shape and adornment of the head and pronotum, and the morphology of the male genitalia. The oothecae are usually species specific and are often parasitised by proctotrupoid and chalcidoid Hymenoptera.

Mantodea reach their greatest diversity in the tropics with numbers and species decreasing rapidly with increasing altitude and latitude. In Australia, they are found in a wide variety of habitats from the arid interior to the wet tropics. They are most diverse in northern parts where there is a strong Indo-Malaysian element and where many genera and species are shared with New Guinea.

Major studies on courtship behaviour, territoriality and defensive behaviour have been conducted in other countries (see MacKinnon 1970; Edmunds 1976a, 1976b; Loxton 1979). Although these studies are applicable and are frequently of taxonomic significance to the Australian mantid fauna, no similar studies have been undertaken here.

The world mantid fauna consists of more than 1900 species in nearly 400 genera and eight families. The Australian fauna comprises three families, five subfamilies, 37 genera and some 160 species. Many genera and species need redefining and future systematic studies could yield a further 30 to 40 species. For instance, in the genus Ciulfina Giglio-Tos, the senior author has identified, on the basis of male genitalia, at least 15 species groups which include two major north/south clines. About two-thirds of the genera found in Australia, but none of the families or subfamilies, are endemic.

Most of the work on the Australian fauna has been piecemeal with most of the genera and species described in foreign journals by overseas workers. Major contributions include descriptions by Sjöstedt (1918), Saussure (1871a, 1871b, 1872), Wood-Mason (1877–1889), Giglio-Tos (1912–1927), Werner (1912–1933) and Beier (1929–1968). Also of importance are the fascicules of the Genera Insectorum published by Wytsman between 1911 and 1935 with contributions by various authors, particularly Giglio-Tos and Beier. As a result, most of the type material is located in overseas (particularly European) institutions. The only significant studies from within Australia are those of Tepper (1896, 1904, 1905) and Tindale (1923, 1924, 1930).

The first significant monograph, by Giglio-Tos in 1927, regarded the group as a family (Mantidae) in the order Orthoptera. Other workers, such as Chopard (1949), regarded the Mantodea as a suborder of the order Dictyoptera along with the Blattodea. The fossil record, although sparse, indicates a common Palaeozoic ancestry with the Blattodea. The Mantodea is nowadays more generally recognised as a separate order. Further discussion of this issue can be found in Kevan (1977) and Roy (1987).

The classification most widely accepted, and followed here, is that of Beier (1964, 1968) but see also Balderson (1991). Eight families are recognised, three of which occur in Australia. Four species recorded from Australia in early literature are regarded as doubtful because of the lack of further records and known affinities with genera that do not occur here.


This section of the Zoological Catalogue of Australia database, from which the published work was derived, was prepared at CSIRO Entomology, Canberra where resources and facilities were made available to us.

The authors wish to thank the curators of the many institutions holding Australian mantid types for their assistance in verifying the status of the species listed. We wish also to thank Mr Jon Prance of the CSIRO Black Mountain Library for assistance and time spent with the literature search.

The illustrations used in the family introductions in the published work, except for Hymenopodidae, are from Balderson (1991). They were reproduced with permission from the CSIRO Entomology and the Melbourne University Press. The illustration of Hymenopodidae was prepared for ABRS by Mr G. Milledge of the Museum of Victoria.

Funding was made available for this project by the Australian Biological Resources Study. We also thank the Editors for help in the compilation of this work.

Database Notes

The information on the Australian Faunal Directory site for the Mantodea is derived from the Zoological Catalogue of Australia database compiled on the Platypus software program. It incorporates changes made to the work published on 2 September 1998 as (Balderson, J., Rentz, D.C.F. & Roach, A.M.E., 1998). Addition of new taxa by ABRS, June 2007.

Common names are taken from Naumann (1993).

Limital Area

Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.

Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.

Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.

Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.


General References

Balderson, J. 1991. Mantodea (praying mantids). pp. 348-356 in CSIRO (ed.). The Insects of Australia. A textbook for students and research workers. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press Vol. 1 xiii 542 pp.

Balderson, J., Rentz, D.C.F. & Roach, A.M.E. 1998. Mantodea. pp. 251-278 in Houston, W.W.K. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Archaeognatha, Zygentoma, Blattodea, Isoptera, Mantodea, Dermaptera, Phasmatodea, Embioptera, Zoraptera. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing, Australia Vol. 23 xiii 464 pp.

Beier, M. 1929. Einige neue Mantiden aus der Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien. Zoologischer Anzeiger 80: 129-133

Beier, M. 1930. New and rare Mantodea (Orthoptera) in the British Museum. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 10 6: 432-460

Beier, M. 1935a. Mantodea: Fam. Mantidae: Subfam. Orthoderinae-Choeradodinae-Deroplatynae. Genera Insectorum 201: 1-10

Beier, M. 1935b. Mantodea: Fam. Mantidae: Subfam. Mantinae. Genera Insectorum 203: 1-146

Beier, M. 1963. Neue und bemerkenswerte Mantiden verschiedener Herkunft. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde 106: 1-11

Beier, M. 1964. Blattopteroidea Mantodea. pp. 849-970 in Bronns, H.G. (ed.). Klassen und Ordnungen des Tierreichs. Vol. 5 Arthropoda, Part III Insecta, Book 6, Number 5. Leipzig : Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Geest & Portig K.-G.

Beier, M. 1965. Über einige Mantiden von der Insel Prince of Wales. Pacific Insects 7: 449-452

Beier, M. 1968. Mantodea (Fangheuschrecken). Handbuch der Zoologie, Berlin IV Arthropoda 4: 1-47

Chopard, L. 1949. Super-Ordre des Blattoptéroides. Ordre des Dictyoptères Leach, 1818. Sous-Ordre des Mantodea Burmeister, 1838. pp. 386-402 in Grassé, P.P. (ed.). Traité de Zoologie. Anatomie, Systématique, Biologie. Insectes. Paris : Masson & Cie Vol. 9.

Edmunds, E. 1976a. The defensive behaviour of Ghanaian praying mantids with a discussion of territoriality. Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 58: 1-37

Edmunds, E. 1976b. Courtship, mating and possible sex pheromones in three species of Mantodea. Entomologist's Monthly Magazine 111: 53-57

Giglio-Tos, E. 1912. Mantidi Esotici. V. Mantes, Tenoderae, Hierodulae et Rhomboderae. Bollettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 43(1911): 1-167

Giglio-Tos, E. 1913. Orthoptera: Fam. Mantidae: Subfam. Perlamantiae. Genera Insectorum 144: 1-13

Giglio-Tos, E. 1914. Mantidi Esotici. VI. Perlamantinae. Bollettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 45(1913): 3-60

Giglio-Tos, E. 1915. Mantidi Esotici. Generi e specie nuove. Bollettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 46(1914): 31-108

Giglio-Tos, E. 1916. Mantidi Esotici. Generi e specie nuove. Bollettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 47(1915): 3-44

Giglio-Tos, E. 1917. Mantidi Esotici. Generi e specie nouve. Bollettino della Società Entomologica Italiana 48(1916): 43-108

Giglio-Tos, E. 1927. Das Tierreich. Lief. 50. Orthoptera Mantodea. Berlin : Walter de Gruyter & Co. 707 pp.

Kevan, D.K.McE. 1977. The higher classification of the orthopteroid insects. Memoirs. Lyman Entomological Museum and Research Laboratory 4(Spec. Publ. No. 12): 52 pp., App. 26 pp.

Loxton, R.G. 1979. On display behaviour and courtship in the praying mantis Ephestiasula amoena (Bolivar). Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 65: 103-110

MacKinnon, J. 1970. Indications of territoriality in mantids. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 27: 150-155

Naumann, I. 1993. CSIRO Handbook of Australian Insect Names. Common and Scientific Names for Insects and Allied Organisms of Economic and Environmental Importance. Melbourne : CSIRO Publications v 200 pp. [Date published 31/12/1993]

Roy, R. 1987. General observations on the systematics of Mantodea. pp. 483-488 in Baccetti, B.M. (ed.). Evolutionary Biology of Orthopteroid Insects. Chichester : Ellis Horwood Ltd 612 pp.

Saussure, H. de 1871a. Mélanges Orthoptérologiques. Fasc. 3. Mémoires de la Société de Physique et d'Histoire Naturelle de Genève 21(1): 1-214

Saussure, H. de 1871b. Mélanges Orthoptérologiques. Supplément au IIIme Fascicule. Mémoires de la Société de Physique et d'Histoire Naturelle de Genève 21(1): 239-336

Saussure, H. de 1872. Mélanges Orthoptérologiques. Fasc. 4. Mémoires de la Société de Physique et d'Histoire Naturelle de Genève 23: 1-160

Sjöstedt, Y. 1918. Results of Dr E. Mjöberg's Swedish scientific expeditions to Australia 1910–1913. 17. Mantidae and Phasmidae. Arkiv för Zoologi 11(19): 1-60

Tepper, J.G.O. 1896. Horn expedition. Orthoptera. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 16: 357-379

Tepper, J.G.O. 1904. Descriptions of some new species of Orthoptera from north-western South Australia. No. 1. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 28: 162-167

Tepper, J.G.O. 1905. Insects collected in the north-western region of South Australia proper by H. Basedow; with descriptions of new species of Mantidae and Phasmidae. No. 2. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 29: 237-245

Tindale, N.B. 1923. Review of Australian Mantidae. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 2: 425-457

Tindale, N.B. 1924. Review of Australian Mantidae. Part 2. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 2: 547-552

Tindale, N.B. 1930. Mantidae in the Australian Museum. Records of the Australian Museum 17: 343-347

Werner, F. 1912. Mantodea und Phasmatodea. pp. 47-56 in Michaelsen, W. & Hartmeyer, R. (eds). Die Fauna Südwest-Australiens. Ergebnisse der Hamburger südwest-Australischen Forschungsreise 1905. Jena : Gustav Fischer Vol. 4(3).

Werner, F. 1927. Neue Mantodeen aus vier Erdteilen. Konowia 6: 275-281

Werner, F. 1928. Zur Kenntnis der Mantodeenfauna des Hinterlandes von Kamerun und des Sepikgebietes von Neuguinea. Nebst Beschreibung einiger interessanter Arten aus anderen Landern. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 14: 12-41

Werner, F. 1933. Prof. Dr. E. Handschin Studienreise auf den Sundainseln und in Nordaustralien 1930–32. Einige teilweise neue asiatische und australische Mantodeen. Revue Suisse de Zoologie 40: 441-447

Wood-Mason, J. 1877. On a small collection of orthopterous insects of the families Phasmidae and Mantidae from Australia and New Britain, with descriptions of four new species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 20: 74-77

Wood-Mason, J. 1878. On new and little-known Mantidae. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 38: 580-587

Wood-Mason, J. 1882. On new and little-known Mantidae. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 51: 21-36

Wood-Mason, J. 1889. A Catalogue of Mantodea with Descriptions of New Genera and Species, and an enumeration of the specimens in the collection of the Indian Museum, Calcutta. No. 1. Calcutta : Indian Museum 48 pp.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
10-Jul-2014 MANTODEA 10-Jul-2014 REVIEWED Lyn Randall
12-Feb-2010 (import)