11/19/2021: Texas unicorn mantids, a cryptic oddity
Circling back to my renewed intrigue with the predatory roaches known as mantids, this is a species I’ve been infatuated with but haven’t been able to find both in captivity or the wild: Phyllovates chlorophaea.
These are well-camouflaged mantids both as adults and nymphs. My experience has been that it’s easy to pick out Stagmomantis and other southwestern United States species on foliage in their wild habitat, both unicorn mantids have always eluded my collecting groups. Save for a few males of a related genus at lights (collecting on easy mode), they are probably sparsely distributed or occur densely in patches where conditions are good.
Many years ago I kept a group of this species communally, and even adults of both sexes got along fine as long as food was supplied somewhat regularly. Most reports suggest they prefer flying prey, which can be annoying in captivity but is readily available in the wild. It’s possible with its preference for moths, which are primarily nocturnal, that the Texas unicorn mantid could be nocturnal as well, though this is just speculation and they make just be active whenever something stimulates their eyes.
I look forward to throwing my hat in the ring at propagating this species again since it’s been way too long since I’ve had them and I feel much better equipped to give them a go this time around!