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“Mantis-Cindy”, female (named after the friend who found and collected her along with 6 other nymphs)
 
Species: Sphodropoda mjobergi, known as the ‘Burying mantis’
Captured 26 June 2011, Palm Cove, QLD, as hatchling with “hundred others”, ~1cm in length.  Initially, 7 nymphs were taken into captivity, 2 expiring before I arrived to collect them on 4 July.  I ended up taking 4 of the 5 still remaining.  Within one week, 2 mantid nymphs had deceased, each had a problem with one of their rear tarsi, causing difficulty in predation.  A third mantis died after its molt, reasons unknown, leaving only one healthy mantid, “Mantis-Cindy”, to survive to maturity.
 
Recorded molts:
12 July (possible 2nd molt)
26 July                                                 14 days
7 Aug                                                    12 days
20 Aug                                                  13 days
31 Aug                                                  11 days
13 Sept                                                 13 days
26 Sept                                                 13 days
12 Oct (final molt), 3-inches in length
 
The molting intervals seem obscure, with relatively long intervals in the earlier stages.  This was likely due to the relatively “cold” winter of July/Aug.  The winter of Tropical Northern Queensland reached some record lows in 2011, and was overall the coldest season in recent years.
 
Notable events:
24 Oct 2011- engaged in struggle with mud-dauber wasp Sceliphron formosum.
1st attempt, mantis was stung in the ventral side of thorax and immediately released the wasp.
 
2nd attempt, now aware of the wasp’s defense, the mantis made a 2nd grab, watched for wasp’s stinger, made proper adjustments on positioning its raptorial forelegs, one holding the wasp’s face, the other holding the center of the thorax.  In this position the wasp desperately and persistently tried to get its abdomen around the thick femur of the mantis coming ever so close to stinging the mantid’s face numerous times as the mantis proceeded to successfully rip into its thorax.
 
25 Oct 2011 – failed at 2 attempts on a 2-inch locust, much credit to the mantis for actually making a 2nd attempt, but the kicking power of the locust is tremendous!
 
31 Oct 2011 – easily tackled and devoured a Yellow-banded Ichneumon wasp, Lissopimpla spp.  Unlike the mud-dauber wasp, the ichneumon wasp was unable to force any struggle from mantis.
 
3 Dec 2011 – fed her a wood cricket, Epacra sp., about half her size (see video ‘Sphodropoda mjobergi battles Epacra’).  She managed to devour the cricket but not without problems.  The cricket fought back with the hind legs and (more importantly) with its powerful jaws, forcing the mantis to change positions several times.  The mantis eventually had the cricket in a position where its head was pinned down on a protruding twig unintentionally by the mantis (and fortunately for the mantis).  The twig acted as a barrier and prevented the cricket from nipping at the mantid’s foreleg.  You can see this (though not clearly) in the video at about 0:40.
 
 
 


“Mantis-Houdini”, female
 
Species: Hierodula majuscula, known as the Australian Giant Mantis
Captured 13 Oct 2011, sitting on a small tree about 2 meters above the ground.  She eluded me twice, climbing higher up the tree which forced me to climb after her.  2 escapes = Houdini
30 Oct – Final molt
 
Notable events: 
15 Dec - Late last night I caught a male H. majuscula which seemed to have been forced under the lighted shelter by the heavy rain.  Initially, I thought it was a female (hope I’m not losing my identification skills), but was ever so glad to realize it was a male at closer look.  I brought him home, allowed him to visually interact with ‘Houdini’, but seemed to have no interest.  But after 10 minutes, something seemed to have clicked as I repeatedly ‘walked’ ‘Houdini’ in the close line of sight of the male.  The male suddenly showed interest, and after watching ‘Houdini’ walk by her several times, he made the (aerial) strike with a short-distance burst of flight onto her back.  This was about 5am. 
 
 As an attempt to keep the male alive, I continuously fed ‘Houdini’ during copulation.  She devoured two large moths and a large katydid.  The mating continued for over 8 hours until 1:30pm when the male disengaged.  My plan was to ‘help’ the male survive this mating, then re-engage in several weeks after the female laid her ootherca, and then release him back into the wild.  I attempted to transfer the male into another container just in case ‘Houdini’ decided to make a meal out of him.  I was outside at the time – big mistake!  Yes, the male flew off.  I managed to catch him mid-air on his first escape attempt, but his efforts were relentless.  He went airborne, about 15 meters up into a tree.  Oh well, good luck and thank you!  I only hope ‘Houdini’ delivers. 
 
 
 
“Mantis-Manute” female (long and thin, therefore named after the late great Manute Bol)
 
Species: Archimantis latistyla, known as Australian Stick Mantid
Captured (24 Oct 2011)
14 Nov – molt during the day, now decent-sized subadult 10cm (just under 4 inches)
 
15 Nov – photo shows ‘Manute’ already exceeding the length of ‘Houdini’. Archimantis latislayla as a SUBADULT has already surpassed the length of an ADULT Hierodula majuscula, Australia’s largest mantid.
 
Notable Events:

15 Nov – About 24 hours after the molt, I attempted to feed her a young grasshopper that she would normally have no problem tackling.  She attempted to grab it twice and let go both times.  One of the forelegs was bleeding underneath, near the joint of the fibula and tibia.
 
21 Nov – tackled a large moth and began to devour as normal, but dropped the moth after only a short period of time.  It left a hole in the thorax area on the ventral side of the moth and still alive.  Why she dropped it is unknown.  It wasn’t because of a struggle (the moth was no longer struggling).  My only guess is that she reached her capacity for the time being.  I’ve seen this on numerous occasions, but typically, the mantis would hold on to the prey for long periods of time and take occasional bites.  This case was strange because initially she began as if she were prepared to consume the entire moth, then the drop came abruptly.  Also, she is not due for her final molt in at least a week.
 
3 Dec – It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on ‘Manute’ (busy with studies).  Over the past week, I’ve been expecting her to molt and it was nerve-racking because she took forever to do so.  Well, today she finally molted, though her condition is in question.  Has she fasted too long before the molt?  Does she have the strength to continue or will she expire after the final molt just as Tenodera did 3 weeks ago?  It remains to be seen…
 
4 Dec – ‘Manute’ seems to be regaining her strength.  Hanging upside down from the bush with legs bent instead of out-stretched as if ready to drop (her condition hours ago).  She’s also very alert to movement around her.  As of now, it appears that she’ll make it and the hopes of breeding in the very near future is still alive.  
 
9 Dec – The past few days, ‘Manute’ has been eating well, particularly moths.  She has issues with her rear left tarsi which is not clinging too well.  This was my fault as I inadvertently damaged the tiny hook a couple of weeks ago before her final molt.  This particular specimen seems normal when hanging upside down, but when in upright position (dorsal side up, ventral side down), her legs don’t seem to hold her body up too well.  In other words, she would almost drag her body walking on a table top.  Is this normal for this species?  Is she still weakened from the near-molting period?  I’ll know when I eventually have the other A. latisyla specimens out for a ‘walk’.
 
20 Dec – I attempted the pairing of Archimantis 3 with ‘Manute’.  He made 2 clumsy attempts to mount her so I decided to abort the attempt.
 
21 Dec – I made another attempt to mate the pair.  This time the mounting was a success, but copulation was not.  Initially the female seemed to be inviting him by opening her organs, however it became clear that she has no interest in mating, pulling away each time the male made an attempt to transfer sperm.  It was also just as clear that the male would cling on to the ‘Manute’.  It’s been an all-day ‘stand-off’.
 
 
 
 
Species: Archimantis 2 (possible male)
 
5 Nov – I witnessed the first molt, and had to interfere because he was too close to the bottom; close call, but the molt was a success.
Compared with the female A. latistyla, this specimen is slightly smaller, more slender all-around and with 7 abdominal segments (ventrally), hopes are high that this is a male (the first specimen is definitely female, having only 6 abdominal segments).
 
  However, it is still possible that the two mantids are an instar apart in maturity, and that the next molt for this 2ndA. latisyla will reveal only 6 abdominal segments.  The next molt will be critically informative.  I also have to take into consideration that they could be siblings, having been found in the same somewhat isolated patch of tall grass roughly 30 square-meters.
 
7 Nov: so far, lacking the tenacity to go after a young locust…
 
Notable Events:
17 Nov – After several days of noticing an eye defect, the mantis had seizure-like convulsions for several seconds and dropped to the ground (never witnessed that before).  I didn’t have much hopes for him to recover, but I left him alone hoping he’d come out of it.  The mantis, by the way, is indeed male.
 
18 Nov – The mantis had passed, and when I grabbed him by the leg to remove his body from the container, his leg simply ripped off, followed by other parts of his body.  The carcass was already being devoured from the inside by larvae.  Question: were the larvae present before he passed???
 
 


Species: Archimantis 3 (male)
 
19 Nov – I’ve been observing this mantid for the past several weeks (see photo ‘Archimantis in the wild’), and after recognizing that my male (Archimantis 2) had an eye infection, I had to consider the possibility of taking this guy in, just in case I lose #2.  Now that I’ve lost him, I did indeed capture this male A. latistyla as a replacement future mate for the female (#1).
 
Notable Events:
20 Dec – As mentioned, I’ve attempted a pairing with ‘Manute’.  (See ‘Mantis-Manute’)
 
 
 
 
 
Species:Tenodera australasiae, known as the Purple-winged Mantis
 
6 Nov 2011 – I really need to address this mantid which I captured a sometime in early Oct.  Aside from feeding and husbandry, I’ve neglected all other aspects of this specimen and its attributes – no acknowledgement, not even recording the exact date of capture or exact date of its only molt since I’ve had her in custody.  I’ve had a certain prejudice—a particular disappointment to all Tenodera spp. because of their lack of ‘ruthlessness’ when it comes to predation.  I’ve blamed the entire Tenodera genus around the world for giving mantids a ‘weak’ reputation by being a (physically) large mantid species and yet consistently being the victims of Asian Giant Hornets (Vespa mandarinia japonic).  But now, I’ve realized I need to give it equal attention for the sake of learning and respect it as an existing species in Australia.
 
10 Nov – final molt
 
11-12  Nov – deceased
 
Notable Events:
Sometime between 11-12 Nov, this mantis expired.  She was in a terribly weakened state following her final molt.  It seems she used all her strength to complete the molt, then had nothing left.  I suspect she may have fasted too long before her final molt, but I cannot confirm that suspicion. 
 
Due to this loss, on 12 Nov, I released the male Tenodera australasiae which I captured for mating opportunities (and one which I have not kept a journal for).  He displayed excellent aerial skills weaving between branches compared to Tenodera aridifolia sinensis, which I recall as very clumsy in flight.
 
 
 
Species: Orthodera ministralis, female
Captured 13 Nov 2011
 
20 Nov – just realized her body is falling apart.  Her right rear leg is broken off from the tibia down.  Her right 2nd leg is missing the tarsi, as well as her left foreleg.  My best guess is she’s nearing the end of her life span.  Last night, she apparently devoured a moth her own size (judging by the remains).  Typically mantids taking a large moth will need to cling tight, not only onto the moth with their forelegs, but also onto the branch with the four rear legs as the moth will struggle with great wind-force.  I could only assume last night’s struggle was enough to damage the apparently aging mantis. 
 
22 Nov – deceased