I’ve never been a bug lover, but this fascinating insect is just too beautiful to go unloved. Who said nature isn’t the smartest artist there’ll ever be?
The stunning creature was found in Nkutu Valley, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa by Margaret Neville who was walking by a lavender bush in her garden. At first, Neville didn’t realize she was staring at a bug. It looked just like a flower, but it didn’t match the tiny petals of lavender. When she took a closer look, she discovered it was an insect, a praying mantis with floral designs on its exoskeleton. An amazing sight for sore eyes.
She picked it up on the back of her palm and took photos of it. Being a bug lover, she didn’t scare the insect away. It’s a praying mantis species known as the spiny flower mantis that looks like something hand-decorated with watercolors. The lovely insect has white wings striped across with green highlights and a captivating swirl of black and white. The swirl is finished with a dot in the middle that gives it the appearance of a hypnotized eye. Her abdomen, head, legs and the rest of her body have tiny, purple and white petals protruding outward from all over.
She’s one stunning masterpiece.
The Spiny Flower Mantis
The spiny flower mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlbergi ) is a species of mantis that is native to southern and eastern Africa. There are at least six species of flower mantises, a group of insects that can camouflage themselves to blend in with floral settings. Another common one is the Malaysian orchid mantis, Hymenopus coronatus, with a stunning pink and white design that looks almost like the Malaysian Orchid flower. Their coloration is an example of aggressive mimicry, a form of camouflage where the predator blends in with the environment to attract prey.
In this case, the spiny flower mantis hunts bees who come to feed on the flower nectar. These insects are known to eat bees and spiders but can eat any kind of available insect when there’s no other choice. They also display cannibalism, a trait common to many other mantis species. The female has no trouble eating her mate after laying eggs. Talk about a destructive relationship.
The species have a sexual dimorphism where the females are slightly different from the males . The females molt seven times to reach adulthood, while the males molt six times. The females have short antennae and slightly longer wings. They also have six to seven segments on their abdomen while the males have a total of eight. The females have short spines on their hardened forewings, a feature missing completely in the males.
Miss Frilly Pants SA
Neville shared the photos with the Waterfall Retreat & Environmental Centre in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The management shared the photos on their Facebook page, and since then it has gone viral with 31K reactions, 5.3K comments, and 58K shares. Thousands of people are in love with the bug who has been nicknamed “Miss Frilly Pants,” because she looks exactly like a pair of frilly, girly underwear.
“Experts said she looked like a pregnant female as you could see her broadening frilled edged belly beginning to extend sideways. She loves to hunt bees that visit the flowers of herbs such as purple and rose pelargonium, she sits at the flowers and hunts using her camouflage,” the center wrote on their Facebook page.
“She has spent the entire month of September living on my lavender,” Neville said. “She is still there now.”
According to Neville, Miss FP may have found love as she was spotted getting down with a male in the garden. Everyone’s hoping she’ll remain in the garden and bring more lovely floral bugs into the world.