Iris oratoria female (6)
|Iris oratoria (Linne, 1758)|
Common names: Mediterranean mantis
Iris oratoria known by the common name Mediterranean mantis or (less frequently) iris mantis, is a widespread species of praying mantis native to Europe. There are 24 species all the world but two in Europe.
I. oratoria is very pale when young but matures to grass green, and grows to about 6.5 cm long. The species may be distinguished from Mantis religiosa and other mantids with which it shares a range and general size and shape by the red-orange spot on the ventral side of the fourth (second to last) abdominal segment (see in picture); also, its cerci are shorter than those of M. religiosa. Another point of distinguishing from Mantis religiosa is the absence of a black-ringed spot beneath the fore coxae (see in WS). The species is distinctive in having two large startling violet-brown eyespots on its hind wings which are revealed when its wings are unfolded. The adult is slenderer than Tenodera sinensis, more like Mantis religiosa in shape. Females have wings shorter than the abdomen (see in WS) very similar to some Stagmomantis species, but easily distinguished if the hindwings are visible.
I. oratoria has developed two survival strategies which may have contributed to the expansion of this species beyond its original range, and its success in areas formerly occupied by other mantids such as Stagmomantis carolina. Firstly, this species is capable of parthenogenic reproduction when males are scarce. Secondly, additional I. oratoria nymphs may emerge from their oothecae in the second season after the egg case is produced, i.e., when their siblings are already grown and are producing their own offspring.
The Mediterranean mantis is known for two distinctive behaviours, apart from the ambush hunting common to other mantids: cannibalism and deimatic or threat displays. The sexual cannibalism of mantids known in popular culture occurs in roughly one quarter of all intersexual encounters of I. oratoria.
When the mantis is under attack, it sets in motion a complex series of actions which combine to form a startling deimatic display. The mantis turns to face the aggressor, rears up by arching its back, curls its abdomen upwards (dorsiflexion), raises and waves its forelimbs, raises its wings to displays the large brightly coloured eyespots on the hindwings, and stridulates by scraping the edge of its hindwings against its tegmina, the leathery front wings.
I. oratoria is an insectivorous insect.