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Camouflaged Cryptic Mantis

Camouflaged Cryptic Mantis
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-10-04
Categories: Insects
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC HX1, Sony G lens 20x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 125
Exposure: f/2.8, 1/60 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2009
Theme(s): Mantodea: Mantis, Insects and Spiders of Southern Africa, Camouflage, A study in Entomology (insects) 1, RARE or SIGNIFICANT contributions to TN 4, Macromania [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2010-01-13 9:04
Viewed: 7527
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 80
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Cryptic Mantis - Sibylla pretiosa

This mantid nymph, also known as the "Lichen Mantis", was photographed at Komatipoort, in the Mpumalanga province.

As is our usual custom we booked in at an overnight B&B, situated closely to the Kruger National Park, the day before we "officially" entered the park for our holiday. This year we stayed at the Komati River Chalets, which is near the southern border of the Kruger National Park, ±12km from the Crocodile Bridge gate. It is situated at the confluence of the Komati and Crocodile Rivers where a low-water causeway creates a little dam which is surrounded by the peaceful and tranquil setting of riverine bushveld vegetation with some very large shady trees. There is a little walkway with a number of rest points (benches) all along the route which follow the contours of the river. Here one can enjoy a relaxing river walk while viewing an abundance of birds, plants, and insects.

Actually it was never our intention to leisure around or to relax at the B&B. Normally when we arrive, at our overnight destination, we would quickly book in and then immediately depart to spend the afternoon inside the Kruger Park. However, when we arrived at the gate at Crocodile Bridge we were told that we couldn't enter, because the (Sunday) quota for daily visitors to the park was already exceeded. I mean…WHAT? The guard at the gate just wouldn't budge even after we showed him our reservation documents which reflected our whole 3 week itinerary and which would have commenced the following day. No matter how we tried, including a telephonic appeal to the camp manager from Crocodile Bridge and even after a sizable number of vehicles already left the park during the time we tried to get access, but to no avail. All our pleas just fell on deaf ears. This is the first time ever I ran into this bit of "red-tape" and boy-o-boy what a frustration. After ±447km I got told I cannot enter – to say the least, I wasn't a very happy chappy.

So, what else could we do, we just went back to the B&B to make the best of this unpleasant situation. That was when we decided to take a stroll along the river walkway. The camp mutt, a little Jack Russell crossed whatever, suddenly decided to befriend us and joined us in our walk. Of course Anna was in her element with all the insects and birds around. I decided to stop at one of the resting points to appreciate the view of the surroundings and that was when I "accidentally" noticed this little guy. I say "accidentally", because this mantis is so well camouflaged that it was pure luck that I saw it. I was leaning against the tree to photograph some Herons, sitting in a tree opposite the river, when I became aware of a slight movement, barely noticeable, from the corner of my eye. And there it was sitting on the side of a tree. The image was turned 90° counter clockwise and cropped to ±75% of the original size. It is unfortunate that the dried twig from an adjacent tree had to creep into the BG though.

That evening we had a wonderful dinner at the Border Country Inn, with Robin Du Bois and his wife Carin, who came all the way from Nelspruit to meet with us. The next day there was no refusal to allow us entry to the Kruger Park. They wouldn't dare to try and stop me then for I would have driven straight through the booms.

Notes update – 17/01/2010: Thanks to Ivan Kruys who alerted me to the fact that this might be a TrekNature 1st. Indeed so it is. After a thorough search thru the gallery I came to the conclusion that this species have never before been posted on the site.

Taxonomic Classification

: Animalia (animals)
PHYLUM: Arthropoda (invertebrates)
CLASS: Insecta (insects)
ORDER: Mantodea (praying mantises: consisting of 9 families and ±2,200 species)
FAMILY: Mantidae (mantids: referring only to members of Mantidae, not the 8 remaining families of mantises)

Size: medium, length (M) 45mm (F) 60mm.

They have unusual leaf-like projections on the joint of their four walking legs. Head with large, forked dorsal spike armed with a pair of lateral teeth. Adults are distinguished from most other mantis species by their leaf-like wings, generally the only green portion of the mantid's otherwise brown and mottled exoskeleton. The spines on the raptorial forelimbs are long and needlelike. The thorax is very elongate, slender and cylindrical, with sharp lateral lobes. The lifespan is likely to be a year and a few months.

Cryptic, moving around on the bark of trees and feeding on other insects that share this specialised habitat.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo, Malawi, Somalia, Tanzania, Zambia, Swaziland, Namibia, northern Zimbabwe, South Africa: KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and Northern Province.

Tree trunks.

The mantid almost exclusively eats flying prey, with fruit flies being the food of preference for young nymphs. Adults and 5th or 6th instar nymphs can tackle much larger prey, such as house flies, small bees and moths.

Conservation status
Common. Least concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.

Source: "Field Guide to Insects of South Africa" by Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths and Alan Weaving, from Struik Publishers. With additional information extracted from Wikipedia - Sibylla_pretiosa, also Wikipedia – Mantodea, and their List of Mantis Genera and Species.

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

marianas, horia, PeterZ, nasokoun, horias, rousettus, jlinaresp, flashpoint, hansh, siggi, Mamagolo2, caspian, jaycee, manyee, Luis52, eng55, Miss_Piggy, anemone, anel, Hussain58, zulfu, Rehanna, xTauruSx, boreocypriensis, tuslaw, Dis. Ac., chrisruth, Argus, uleko, albert, alin-m, sranjan, Noisette, Matt-Bird has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
Animal Behaviouringridshaul 2 06-23 03:51
To Argus: TN 1stloot 1 01-17 13:08
To hansh: Most preciousloot 1 01-13 13:48
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Critiques [Translate]

What a interesting species this wonderful praying mantises!
Great details and colors!

  • Great 
  • zetu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 26 N: 3888] (16941)
  • [2010-01-13 9:09]

Hello Loot
Great shot of this interesting insect

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2010-01-13 9:23]

Hi Loot and a very belated but sincere Happy New Year and Best wishes for 2010 to Anna and You!

It's nice to see another post from you...and i'm particularly glad and pleasantly surprised to see a macro :)
This is a terrific shot of this beautiful nymph! The colors and textures on it are amazing and indeed crate a stunning camouflage...you are very right to say you were very lucky to have spotted this :)
I actually don't mind the dry twig in the BG...it looks like it's a part of it, but i really like the DOF you chose here - not that shallow as to blur the entire BG completely and therefore one that leaves just enough details for us to better understand the camo of this cute thing.
Aside the excellent photo, a great note as usual. Don't be sorry about not making where you initially wanted...you got a photo in the end after all :)

Cheers and only best wishes for 2010 again!

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2010-01-13 9:24]

Hello Loot,
Wonderful animal in a superb camouflage. Amazing colours and sharp details. The low POV makes it all complete. Excellent composition and OOF BG.

hello Loot,
the art of nature and camouflage, exceptional subject, that from a very good POV you splendidly present, it's a great and unusual macro photo!
keep photographing! TFS

  • Great 
  • horias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 837 W: 58 N: 2084] (11033)
  • [2010-01-13 10:09]

Hi Loot
What a great mantis today!
Details of this wonderful insect are fantastic!
Amazing forms and colors.

Hi Loot,
A strange and very attractive insect, best of all is the pose! is excellent! and the environment is appropriate and gives an almost epic photo. Very well composed.

Hello Loot,
nice to beacome a neighbour with you.
this is wonderful capture of master of mimicry. sharp details, POV and deepth of field wonderful. coloration superb. nicely composed and noted as always.
thanks for sharing, best wishes

hello Loot
very good picture with 3D efects on the BG.
great details and good sharpness
beautiful colours to
greeting lou

  • Great 
  • hansh Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 277 W: 1 N: 741] (2762)
  • [2010-01-13 12:35]
  • [+]

Hello Loot.

I must say that i never have seen such a creature befor in my life.
I find it fantastic. Your picture is for me the reason why i like TN so much. Seeing and reading about animals and insects that i never have seen before.
And then with such a great quality, sharpness, colors, POV, combined with your note makes you, to me, one of the greatest contributers at this moment on TN.
I only can write here how greatful i am to you sharing this photo with us.
Thank you very much.

Gr. Hans

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2010-01-13 12:45]

Hello Loot,
Thsi is a very interesting macro, with the perceivable contrast in a camouflage habitat. Congradulations my friend.
Best regards Siggi

Hi Loot.
Well spotted great macro.
Cheers Dave

Hello Loot,
the insect is well focused and taken from the most appropriate point of view.
Colours are amazing. The background is rather noisy and I tried to improve it.
The result is shown in the workshop. I hope that you will like it!
Best wishes, Peter

  • Great 
  • GLEM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 540 W: 87 N: 750] (10)
  • [2010-01-13 13:37]

hi loot,
j'adore ce genre d'insect très difficile à dénicher, mais d'une beauté intrigante. Splendide réalisation, pov adéquate avec des couleurs et une netteté parfaite.

Hi Loot.
Amazing catch ..Very good camouflage ...Colors and details super...Well done and thanks f. s.

Hi Loot,

Very interesting type of mantis.
I often go a few times in this species is similar in nature trip I met mantis insects.
I think I found you with South Africa where the similarities between Turkey Mediterranean climate, some species have a similar result was revealed.
Ideal for nature lovers and you live in a geography are so lucky in this respect.
In addition, the notes of the effort to capture as skillfully prepared.
Thank you for sharing that.

Best Regards,

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2010-01-13 15:46]

Hi Loot,

I sensed the frustration in your notes and I empathize with you. I guess the computer said the park was full! This Mantis should make up for the inconvenience. It is so well camouflaged you must have eagle eyes to have noticed it. Fantastic shot with marvelous colors and details. The pose makes him look like a creature from outer space.


  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2010-01-13 18:07]

That is an amazing creature, Loot.
Good eye for you for spotting this perfect example of camouflage.
And such a dainty one at that.
Wonderful macro with fantastic details on something so slim.
What a weird assemblage of body parts!
Congratulations, my friend.
TFS. : )

  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2010-01-13 19:05]

Hola Sr. Lott.
Just beautiful Macro Photo. A lot of fine details here due to the sharpness and light.
I also have a Mantis here in my last photo, but mine is to differnt from this one.
Really like it. TFS

I keep forgetting to look for the smaller things in life! I love your use of depth of field to put the cluttered foreground and background out of focus so the viewer can concentrate on the subject. The detail and colours are spot-on, thanks for sharing. No more elephants for me, I need to look out for the small things in life, much more interesting!

  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2010-01-13 23:15]

Hi Loot,
Excellent capture of this preying mantis.This is my favr. insect:)Camouflage is amzing here.I liked autumn colors,lighting,sharpness,POV and composition a lot.Have a nice day!
Thanks for posting..

Dear Loot
This image is super sharp and reflects great detail and qualities, making it a praiseworthy macro. The almost rough markings, patterns and texture on the body are impressive. The details of the rounded body are well captured and displays beautifully on the screen. The pose in which you have captured this mantis reminds me of a dog ready to attack, especially the placement of the hind legs. The combination of colours of the image as a whole is great, especially the bark of the tree as surface. The camouflage aspect is well photographed. I like the "different" backdrop than the usual neutral or flowery that we see so often. This backdrop also just shows how well this mantis can hide itself in nature. You had a good eye to notice this beautiful creature. Ultimate end result A++. Love.

Hello Loot. Stunning macro capture of a praying mantis.
Beautiful colours and nice composition..
Kind regards,

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2010-01-14 6:33]

Hello Loot,
A very special shot showing this very slim crature imerged in a surrounding with the same coloration. Perfect camouflage! At first you had to notice it and then take a picture which isolates the Mantis from its environment. You did well, and I like also the silhouette of the tree we can see in the background. Very fine composition with pleasing colors.
Kind regards

Hello Loot,
Hope you'll be fine. What a super photo and what a skill to take it in its perfect surroundings where it would have looked quite impossible to detect. It is sharp image, beautiful colours and nothing is overdone. It is balanced in all respects...thanks for sharing....take care...warmest regards/Abid

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2010-01-14 10:34]

Hello Loot,
Fantastic macro shot with wonderful tones and perfect focus and lighting!
TFS and G's,

Hello Loot, amazing close up of this moth with nice pose and composition.
TFS and regards,

Ciao Loot, wonderful capture of strange creature, fantastic example of camouflege, fine details and splendid sharpness, very well done, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Hi MF Loot,

Absolutely stunning image of this ready-to-attacking well-camouflaged mantis!
The clarity and details are first class, as is the focus and exposure. As always great notes too.
TFS and have a nice night and WE MF!


  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2010-01-15 20:18]

Hello Loot,
What an amazing capture and full of pin sharp detail. You were fortunate to have spotted this well camouflaged little guy. Love the warrior like pose and diagonal composition. Sounds like you had a wonderful time, even though things didn't seem to start off the way you had planned.

Hello Loot,

than hand of the master, good low pov and like my sparrow picture good deepth of field.
I mean unsharp before and unsharp behind the mantis.
You know what you're doing.
Exellent image.


  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2010-01-16 4:05]

Hi Loot,
wow...this is really a camouflaged outfit this mantis wear. Indeed very effective and harmonise with its surrounding.
You have captured it in very skillful manner that project the features very well. Details well seen and indeed it is a special composition in great view.
The most outstanding element here is, for me, the very shallow depth. The effect is outstanding.
Very impressive production and superbs presentation.


NB: Thanks for the advice.
Youre such a wonderful person.

Hi Loot

Wonderful capture of this camouflaged Mantis.
As usual the photography is superb with a great focus on the body of the Mantis.

The F2.8 gave you a perfect DOF for the subject and a lovely blurred BG. The twig from the adjacent tree doesn't bother me at all, in fact I think it adds to the artillery of the mantis' and disguise it is trying to pull.

Well done and TFS
Kind Regards MF

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-01-17 11:28]
  • [+]

Hello Loot,
A wonderful macro!
This Lichen Mantis nymph is superbly portrayed from a fine lateral POV with excellent sharpness and colours agimst the camouflaging colours of both the FG and OOF natural BG.
Surely this is a new species for TN! If so congratulations and for such a fine image of it too.
Thanks for this delight,

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2010-01-18 4:48]

Hello Loot,
How amazing that you managed to discover this beautifully camouflaged Mantis! But this happens when you least expect it! You certainly got a brilliant capture showing it very sharply and in beautiful colours against the bark of the tree. Very well observed!
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

  • Great 
  • waylim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 296 W: 8 N: 489] (1765)
  • [2010-01-18 11:51]

Hello Loot,
What I like very much about many of your photo is your POV, and you take the task of photographing anything very seriously, where I think I'm more relax and casual about it. This Low POV allow a viewer to be at the same level as the little creature, even though it is a little mantis, it feel significant here, Like we are just a little insect on the ground looking at this giant creature armed with sharp and dangerous arms and legs. Good details overall, great DoF and nice clarity of the mantis among all the similar colors, it is still very visible, as hard as it try to camouflage itself, your caught it and exposed it clearly. Good you're its predator. Thanks.

Hello Loot,
You must have sharp eyes !!! not easy to find this mantis with very efficient camouflage
Great low POV with excellent focus, a beautiful BG too

Hi Loot.
This capture is great indeed.This insect look great and photo is very good.
Congratulations and greetings.Alin.

Hello Prof Loot,
An amazing macro shot of mantid nymph by you. Its looks heavily plated with an aggressive approach to some destination. I appreciate the way you picked it up despite of camouflage with surrounding and have rotated the image to make it more interesting (turned 90° counter clockwise and cropped to ±75%). TFS

Hello Loot
excellent capture of this Lichen Mantis, this is a very strange species of mantis
his colors and his shape looks like his environment
the details are crisp clear sharp
beautiful lighting and nie composition
Have a good night

Hi Loot,
Your excellent photo of this Mantis taught me that I do not know anything about Insects. I bought a New Field Guide (the same as you quote) before my absence, and I had difficulties to identify the animal in your photo without just using the Index…

To add to the layman’s confusion - the experts do not always know the whole truth – or the animal in question had not read the same Field Guide and behaves differently!?!

I like very much the way you controlled tightly the depth of field, herby emphasizing great details like for instance the head resembling a Sea-Horse.

The natural colors demonstrate your note … "accidentally noticed this little guy”… because the camouflage of Stick Insects and Mantids in general – and in particular of the Camouflaged Cryptic Mantis is excellent!

You cropped the image very skilfully, making it a perfect portrait of the Lichen Mantis.

Every photo in your portfolio is a pleasure to view.

PS Your frustration about the red tape is palpable – you should become an Author.

Have a good week
Kind regards

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