Margaret Neville makes a wonderful discovery in her back yard on a September day in South Africa. She rested among the lavender bushes of her praying mantis flower, a kind of praying mantis that had evolved to look incredibly “flowery” as camouflage. The particular praying mantis Neville found is a female with a large swirl pattern on her back and lavender bud-like spurs on her legs. Neville was amazed at the insect’s beauty and called the praying mantis “Miss Frilly Pants” in reference to her “purple pants”.
“Nature is there for all of us to share,” Neville tells My Modern Met. Since Miss Frilly Pants shared her discovery, she has had many fans around the world. Miss Frilly Pants’ photos and videos can also be viewed on the Waterfall Retreat & Environmental Center’s Facebook page. In late September, the site announced that an unusual praying mantis had found a companion – a male praying mantis flower.
There are many types of praying mantises around the world. The lizard mantis is another type of praying mantis. Females are taller and brilliantly colored, with legs amazingly like orchid leaves. They are waiting for the insects to approach them, fooled by their pink appearance. However, males did not develop with floral camouflage. They are smaller with faded colors. While the female appearance is a colorful trap, the males should hunt rather than wait. Evolutionary researchers believe this difference in sex-hunting strategies and its evolutionary implications in arthropods (spiders and insects) are unique.
The lyrical name “Miss Frilly Pants” fits a flower praying mantis. Other types of praying mantis have innovative names, including “Mantis mantis the wandering fiddle bride”, “Arizona mantis rhinoceros” and “Mantis Demons”. There’s no denying that Miss Frilly Pants and her fellow Mantis appear as whimsical as their names suggest.
Margaret Neville spotted a South African praying mantis blending into a lavender bush in her garden and named the beautiful insect Miss Frilly Pants.
Here is a snapshot of Miss Frilly Pants in action:
My Modern Met has given permission to display pictures of Margaret Neville.