Iris oratoria

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Iris oratoria
Iris oratoria Gruissan.jpg
Adult female Iris oratoria
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Euarthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mantodea
Family: Tarachodidae
Genus: Iris
Species: I. oratoria
Binomial name
Iris oratoria
  • Gryllus (Mantis) oratorius
    Linnaeus, 1758[1]
  • Mantis bella (Germar,1817)
  • Mantis dentata (Goeze, 1778)
  • Mantis fenestrata (Brullé, 1832)
  • Mantis minima
    (Charpentier, 1825)[2]

Iris oratoria, known by the common name Mediterranean mantis or (less frequently) iris mantis, is a widespread species of praying mantis native to Europe. It is found as an introduced species in the Middle East, Western Asia and the United States.[3][4][5][6] Iris oratoria invaded southern California in the 1930s and seems to be spreading.[7]


Albania, Bulgaria, Brač Island, Korčula Island, France (Including Corsica), Greece (Including Ionian Islands, Crete, Cyclades Islands), Italy (Including Sardinia, Sicily), Macedonia, Portugal, Spain (Including Balearic Islands), Yugoslavia (Including Serbia, Kosovo, Voivodina, Montenegro), North Africa (Morocco, Algeria,[8] Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, North Chad), Cyprus, West, Central and South Asia (Asian Turkey, India,[8] Israel, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Turkestan[8]),[9] Non-native to the Southwestern United States[9] (Arizona,[10] California,[11] Nevada,[12] Texas.[13]).


I. oratoria is very pale when young but matures to grass green, and grows to about 6.5 cm long. The species may be distinguished from Mantis religiosa and other mantids with which it shares a range and general size and shape by the red-orange spot on the ventral side of the fourth (second to last) abdominal segment; also, its cerci are shorter than those of M. religiosa.[5][14][15] The species is distinctive in having two large startling violet-brown eyespots on its hind wings which are revealed when its wings are unfolded. The adult is more slender than Tenodera sinensis, more like Mantis religiosa in shape. Females have wings shorter than the abdomen,[5][15] very similar to some Stagmomantis species, but easily distinguished if the hindwings are visible.


Two novel I. oratoria survival strategies may have contributed to the expansion of this species beyond its original range, and its success in areas formerly occupied by other mantids such as Stagmomantis carolina. Firstly, this species is capable of parthenogenic reproduction when males are scarce. Secondly, additional I. oratoria nymphs may emerge from their oothecae in the second season after the egg case is produced, i.e., when their siblings are already grown and are producing their own offspring.[7][16]


At a field site in Davis, CA, S. limbata hatched earlier in the season than Iris oratoria, and Iris oratoria tended to persist longer into the year.[7]


An adult female Iris oratoria in a deimatic or threat pose

The Mediterranean mantis is known for two distinctive behaviours, apart from the ambush hunting common to other mantids: cannibalism and deimatic or threat displays. The sexual cannibalism of mantids known in popular culture occurs in roughly one quarter of all intersexual encounters of I. oratoria.[3][17]

When the mantis is under attack, it sets in motion a complex series of actions which combine to form a startling deimatic display. The mantis turns to face the aggressor, rears up by arching its back, curls its abdomen upwards (dorsiflexion), raises and waves its forelimbs, raises its wings to displays the large brightly coloured eyespots on the hindwings, and stridulates by scraping the edge of its hindwings against its tegmina, the leathery front wings.[18]


Compared to Stagmomantis limbata, Iris oratoria eats a lesser portion of Orthopteran insects and does not eat as much long bodied insects. S. limbata adults have longer pronota and forelegs than I. oratoria adults. This difference in body size might be an important cause of the dietary differences between the species. Furthermore, the earlier hatch date for S. limbata also might reduce the overlap in Iris oratoria and Stagmomantis limbata diets.[7]

Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Crump, Marty; Crump, Alan (illustrator) (2005). Headless Males Make Great Lovers & Other Unusual Natural Histories. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-12199-2.
  • Prete, Frederick R (1999). The Praying Mantids. JHU Press.


  1. ^ "Memorias de la Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural": 210.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-13. Retrieved 2014-10-13. TexasA&MUniversity Tarachodidae list
  3. ^ a b Sexual cannibalism, mate choice, and sperm competition in praying mantids Archived 2007-12-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ California Department of Food and Agriculture
  5. ^ a b c Bugs in Cyberspace Archived 2007-02-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Israel Insect World
  7. ^ a b c d "Range Expansion of an Introduced Mantid Iris oratoria and Niche Overlap with a Native Mantid Stagmomantis limbata (Mantodea: Mantidae)" by Michael R. Maxwell and Ofer Eitan, Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Volume 91, Number 4, July 1998.
  8. ^ a b c "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2014-02-15. Title: Updated Checklist of India Mantodea (Insecta) Authors: Mukherjee et al. Date:1995
  9. ^ a b "First exact records of Mediterranean Mantis, Iris oratoria (Dictyoptera: Mantodea: Tarachodidae) from Croatia". 61 (1). 2012. ISSN 1211-3026.
  10. ^ [1] By Bugguide user Bryan Doty, Title: "Mediterranean mantis (Iris oratoria) - Iris oratoria - Male", Location: "Kingman, Arizona, Mohave County, Arizona, USA", Date: "September 1, 2008"
  11. ^ [2] By Bugguide user julieha64, Title: "?? - Iris oratoria", Locationa: "pittsburg, contra costa County, California, USA", Date: "September 26, 2009", Size of the light brown Iris oratoria adult male doing a threat pose in the image on "Size: 2 inches?"
  12. ^ [3] By Bugguide user Jason R Eckberg, Title: "Immature mantis - Iris oratoria - Male", Location: "Las Vegas Wash within the Clark County Wetlands Park, Clark County, Nevada, USA", Date: July 12, 2011
  13. ^ [4] By Bugguide user Paul Lenhart, Title:"Iris oratorio female - Iris oratoria - Female", Location: "red sand dunes approx. 35 km E. of El Paso nr. Hueco Mountains along Hwy. 62, El Paso County, Texas, USA", Date: "September 26, 2007", Comment or Description about the image on "This female and the male I am submitting images of were found mating on a sunflower at night in the desert."
  14. ^ Animal Junction
  15. ^ a b D. Oliveira, Mantid Genera Key Archived 2006-12-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ University of Southern California: The Mantis Project Stage 4 Is Observed Parthenogenesis Cryptic or Induced?
  17. ^ Crump, 2005.[page needed]
  18. ^ Prete, 1999. p 185.