The springbok mantis (Sphodromantis gastrica), also called the South African mantis, as it is sometimes named after its native range, is a predatory insect. Like most mantises, the springbok mantis is an aggressive hunter, often going after a range of smaller insects. The young will sometimes engage in cannibalism, eating their siblings. The adult females are larger than males, and following mating, the female often eats the male. While this is common in some insects, including mantises, this behavior has caused some unique issues where the species has been introduced.

In 1978, the springbok mantis was first discovered in Auckland, New Zealand, and it has now spread throughout the country, especially in urban centers. Though not considered a pest species, the springbok mantis has had a major impact on the native New Zealand mantis. Male New Zealand mantises will attempt to mate with the female springbok mantises; however, they are far more aggressive and will usually eat the approaching male almost immediately. As a result, New Zealand mantis populations are in widespread decline. The reach of the springbok mantis may extend even farther; new populations have been discovered in Portugal and Australia in recent years, which may cause challenges for their native mantis species.

  1. Where are springbok mantises originally from, and what is another name for the species?

    • Answer

      Springbok mantises are originally from South Africa. They also go by the name of South African mantis.

  2. What happens to male mantises after mating?

    • Answer

      The female often eats them.

  3. How are springbok mantises contributing to the decline of native New Zealand mantises?

    • Answer

      The springbok mantises are aggressive and the females eat the native New Zealand species of male mantises.

aggressive
Adjective

forceful or offensive.

cannibal
Noun

organism that eats the meat of members of its own species.

insect
Noun

type of animal that breathes air and has a body divided into three segments, with six legs and usually wings.

native
Adjective

indigenous, or from a specific geographic region.

pest species
Noun

non-native species introduced to an ecosystem whose existence may cause harm.

predatory
Adjective

killing other animals for food.

sibling
Noun

brother or sister.

urban center
Noun

densely populated area, usually a city and its surrounding suburbs.