Bark Mantis

Most of the predators in nature, rely on stealth and camouflage to outsmart their prey. From the big cats like the tiger, leopard, to the smaller hunters like the jumping spiders and praying mantises.

Here’s one that I came across recently. In one of the nature trails, just as I stepped past a large tree, I felt a sudden, brisk movement on its bark. For the split second that I was able to see, it seemed like a praying mantis to me.

I was sure it was still there. It had stopped moving and had settled itself somewhere on the trunk. However much I tried to locate it, i wasn’t able to. Looking at the tree head-on and trying to spot it was a futile attempt. It seemed to have disappeared into thin air. It indeed, had a very powerful camouflage and I was struggling to aid my eyes in seeing trough that.

Moving slowly across and kneeling myself down, looked at the tree from its side. That was when, I was able to see it. It was a praying mantis, alright. It was sitting there, with absolutely no movement whatsoever, in a very characteristic praying mantis’ pose.

Getting back to my upright position, again tried looking at the tree head-on as I had done before. And just as before, wasn’t easy to locate it. As I already knew its position, was able to spot it this time around, but wasn’t easy at all.

Amazingly camouflaged, can you spot it ? :-) ……

Bark Mantis

As it turns out, this is a species of Praying Mantis, either the ‘Humbertiella similis’ or the ‘Humbertiella ceylonica’, commonly known as the ‘Bark Mantis’.

True to its name, this mantis, spends most of its life on the trunks and branches of trees, making use of its wonderful camouflage to hunt other smaller insects. Read that these are highly territorial as well.  Found two different individuals on either side of the tree’s trunk. On the relatively darker side of the trunk, was this one, most probably a male.

Bark Mantis

And, on the slightly greener or lighter side of the trunk, was this more greenish individual, most probably a female of the species.

Bark Mantis

Neither of them crossed over to the other side of the tree. They seemed to understand as to, on which side, their camouflage actually worked and stuck to that. Amazing as to how these details get ingrained in the genetic make up.

Also, this mantis seemed to be a very fast runner, more like the Tiger beetles that I have seen. Most of the other mantises that I have encountered, would move away slowly, either to the underside of a leaf or to a different stalk of the plant, when disturbed. This one, however, was very very fast and dashed up the tree trunk, away and out of sight in no time. It is believed that these mantises, in addition to relying on their stealth, are capable of chasing down their prey.

Here’s a one that just shot up the tree trunk and disappeared at the blink of an eye, one moment it was there, the next it wasn’t……

Bark Mantis

Lovely little creatures. Was very happy to have seen and photographed this wonderful insect, the trail was worthy enough, just for this sighting.

A Couple of lovely posts on tree barks and camouflage that make for interesting reading….

The art of bark - AranyaParva

Camouflage – a photo feature - Wild Wanderer


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