One of the several interesting insects I photographed during my recent visit to Malaysia in June 2014 was this beautiful subadult female Ceratomantis saussurii (Wood-Mason, 1876). I saw it hanging upside down on a low-hanging tree branch beside a forest trail in Pahang. Although it measured just about 2.5 cm from end to end (with its abdomen bent upwards), its staggered, quivering motion caught my attention.
Needless to say, I was thrilled by the sighting and proceeded to take several photographs of it. I took a few photographs with my Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens, combined with flash lighting and a DIY diffuser, and then switched to the longer Sigma 180mm f/3.5 EX DG Macro HSM and a tripod for a few natural light shots. As a matter of personal taste, I prefer to take photographs that capture subjects in ambient light, and the longer lens gives pleasing results.
A quick search on Google showed me that this species is bought and sold by enthusiasts who keep them as pets. This also suggests that some of the said enthusiasts breed them in captivity.
Mantids are very photogenic, the poses they strike seeming almost human in nature. This one in particular looks like it might have provided the inspiration for some of the aliens in science fiction movies.
I often spend up to 40 minutes shooting an individual from different angles in a variety of poses. Some mantids — like this one — are so curious, they jump onto my diffuser when I get close, a behaviour very similar to that of salticids. I had to keep putting this mantis back on the branch by letting it climb off of the diffuser and onto my finger.
This little critter made my day.
- Wood-Mason, J. (1889). A Catalogue of the Mantodea: With Descriptions of New Genera and Species, and an Enumeration of the Specimens in the Collection of the Indian Museum, Calcutta (Vol. 1). order of the Trustees of the Indian Museum.
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One thought on “Ceratomantis saussurii: a species of horned mantis”
Yup! The small mantises are always very curious! 😀 Cool finding! In Croatia, I get Ameles spallanzania and Ameles decolor findings. Cool mantises indeeed 😀
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