The genus Metallyticus reviewed (Insecta: Mantodea)
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DEROPLATYS PRAYING MANTIS
The Dead Leaf Mantis, ( Deroplatys ) is a large mantis from Malaysia that is camouflaged as a dead leaf. It looks amazing! They are not very easy to keep and breed, but it is definately possible.
This species of praying mantis is always brown, but the shade of brown may vary between individuals. Their brown color is not solid all over, but it has dark and light spots to mimic a dead leaf. On their back they have a huge shield (prothorax), making it look even more like a dead leaf. This feature can be seen almost all species in the Deroplatys genus.
This is one of the largest species of cryptic mantis kept in captivity successfully. They are about as big as the commonly kept species (Sphodromantis, Hierodula) but are very well camouflaged. Females are about 9 cm long, the males are a bit smaller with their 7 or 8 cm. Males have a small shield on their prothorax and their body is not as wide as that of the females. Males have wings that extend almost one centimeter past the abdomen, while females have wings that reach just up to the abdomen.
Praying mantids (more commonly known as mantises) have been beloved and feared by different cultures throughout history. They are agile, strong and specially inconspicuous insects: their great ability to mimic different elements that surrounds them and camouflage both in color and shape with the environment make them beautiful and terrifying insects at the same time for other insects.
The term praying mantis is frequently used to talk about insects that belong to Mantodea order, which has about 2300 described species worldwide nowadays. This name was given them because of the pose their raptorial forelegs adopt when being relaxed: both gathered and close to the body in an angle that resembles arms in a praying pose. On the other hand, the term mantis derives from the ancient Greek term mantis ( prophet or diviner ).
The first fossil remains of Mantodea insects date from more than 135Ma (Baissa, Siberia). They would be closely related to termites (Isoptera order) and cockroaches (Blattodea order) according to the great similarities found on their female reproductive systems, and less closely related to grasshoppers and crickets. They are usually confused with stick insects and especially with mantidflies or mantispids, which have raptorial forelegs like mantids.
Having an elongated body and a pair of raptorial forelegs responds to a predatory style of life: mantids remain immobile and in silence waiting their preys over different vegetable element of their environment (such as leafs, flowers, etc...), it is because of that that some species of mantids have evolved in color and shape to resemble or mimic elements of their environment, which allows them to be unnoticed to preys and potential predators.
Mantids are generalist carnivorous, so they feed on a great variety of insects that they stalk and hunt at high speeds. Sometimes, it has also been observed a cannibalism behavior among specimens of the same species (or even different species).