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Odontomantis planiceps (de Haan, 1842)

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Nymph of the Asian Ant Mantis. (Image by: Tiffany Lum)

Table of Contents
excludeAsian Ant Mantis
Life Cycle of Praying Mantids

Praying mantids are holometabolous hemimetabolous insects, in which they and undergo three main life stages: egg, nymphs, adults.  With each moult as a nymph, the individuals gradually develop features that make them look more like adults.  This is in contrast to holometabolous insects that have four life stagesstages, where the larvae moults as it grows but does not change much in morphology.

Comparison of holometabolous life cycle against hemimetabolous life cycle. (Images by: Tiffany Lum)

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Similar to cockroaches, praying mantids lay their individual eggs in egg cases termed as ootheca.  Each ootheca is a huge investment by a single female because she invests in multiple offspring in one sitting (usually ranges from about ten to over hundreds).  The ootheca functions as a shield from environmental stressors such as temperature fluctuations and water damage

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. Many mantids tend to lay on solid surfaces such as branches and stems. But due to the built up environment Singapore has, a lot of urban-adapted species lay their ootheca on surfaces like railings, walls, and windows (personal observation).

Morphology of ootheca have been known to have the potential for species delimitation, if not higher level taxa, due to the variation between different species

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.  However, ootheca morphology has been severely understudied throughout literatureBelow are some examples of other oothecae laid/formed by a few common local mantids to show how ootheca morphology can vary between species. 

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The emergence area is the location at which the nymphs will hatch from, and this area varies between different types of oothecae too.  During emergence, nymphs hang from strings that originate from emergence areas, and the nymphs gradually wiggle to free themselves.

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4 stages in the life cycle of O. planiceps . (Image by: Tiffany Lum)

Ootheca

In O. planiceps, the external dorsal walls of ootheca were white and foamy upon formation, but gradually developed into a hue of mustard yellow, with a coarse, scaly surface. They are formed from proximal to distal ends.  The emergence area is where the nymphs will hatch from the ootheca.  For each healthy ootheca laid by an O. planiceps, the hatchlings usually vary between 5 and 30 individuals Between 5 to 30 individuals emerge from a typical ootheca (personal observation).

Labelled images of an O. planiceps ootheca. (Images by: Tiffany Lum)

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Footnote Macro

Frank, 2015

Although very effective in controlling the pest population, it should also be noted that mantids should never be imported from outside of their native areas, asT. sinensis is now an invasive species in North America. Afterall, mantids are extremely voracious feeders and are able to eat a wide variety of prey items.  Some mantids have even able to gut the toxic innards of caterpillars

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.  However, iNaturalist only contains information contributed by citizen science and could be inaccurate.  Proper studies to determine global distribution of O. planiceps has not been conducted. 

Screenshot of the map Map of Singapore, taken from iNaturalist (Permission granted). Red markers indicate the location of O. planiceps sightings reported by iNaturalist users, purple markers indicate locations that O. planiceps were personally observed. (Image from: iNaturalist, edited by: Tiffany Lum)

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Parsimonious trees have shown fairly strong support in the evolutionary history of Odontomantis in relation to other closely related taxa. Strict consensus cladograms obtained from the trees were well supported by morphological variationcharacters.  This includes traits such as secondary elongation of female wings (Node 75), number of cercomeres (Node 73), and postero-ventral fore tibial spines being laid down (Node 77).  However, there has been no studies on the species level phylogeny.

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Sometimes, different names are assigned to the same species, especially when a species that has already been described earlier was described again.  The names that come after the initial naming and descriptions are considered as junior synonyms and should not be used in nomenclaturebiology.

In the case of Odontomantis (Saussure, 1871) as a genus, Antissa (Stal, 1871) and Euantissa (Giglio-Tos, 1927) were classified as junior synonyms. This was because the description of the genus Antissa and Euantissa were synonymous with Odontomantis , which was described first. For species-level names, javana (Saussure, 1870) was classified as a junior synonym.  Hence, the species should be referred to as Odontomantis planiceps (de Haan, 1842).

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The original species description cannot be found online, but the genus description can be found in the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

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, personal communication with curators from Natural History Museum of Geneva revealed that the female specimen has been transferred to RMNH Leiden (Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden). The syntype for O. javana (female) (which has been classified as a synonym of planiceps) and male holotype filed under O. planiceps are currently stored in RMNH Leiden.

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