|Male ghost mantis in one of the older nymph stages, probably sub-adult|
Phyllocrania paradoxa, common name ghost mantis, is a small species of mantis from Africa remarkable for its leaf-like body. It is one of the three species in the genus Phyllocrania. It is known for its distinct and exclusive camouflaged appearance of a dry weathered leaf.
Phyllocrania paradoxa is camouflaged so as to appear as dead, dried-up leaf material. It has an elongated head, a flattened, extended prothorax and leaf-like protrusions from its limbs. The mantis also has a forewing that looks like a desiccated leaf, and the "creases" in the wings are actually shadings of pigment. In the wild, the ghost praying mantis effectively blends in against dead leaves. Predators such as birds tend to overlook insects that resemble their background, and by staying still the ghost praying mantis can go unnoticed.
As with most or all species of mantis, Phyllocrania paradoxa is sexually dimorphic, with females being larger than males. Females have six abdominal segments. Males are shorter, narrower, and have eight-segmented abdomens. At the 5th instar and above males are thinner than females and have smaller appendages (lateral of the abdomen). At the 6th instar and above their crowns are different. When adult, males have longer and thicker antennae than females and have transparent wings, which are longer than the abdomen and are good flyers and are significant thinner than the females. At the 5th instar and above females are more compact than males and have bigger appendages. At the 6th instar and above the crown of females are as wide as their head and more line and smoother than the male`s crown. When adult, females are significantly more compact than the male with shorter antennae and the wings cover the abdomen.
Phyllocrania paradoxa have a wide range across the African continent and its islands and can be found in Angola, Cameroon, Cape Province, Congo basin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Transvaal, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It is also found in South Europe.
Ghost Mantis inhabit dry areas, bushes, shrubbes, trees in the open.
The ghost mantis is one of the most popular species of mantis in the mantis hobby because it looks good, is very easy to keep, it is relatively long-lived and are not very aggressive toward each other unlike many praying mantises so older nymphs can be kept together without problem and they should be separated around pre-sub-adult. Female ghost mantises can live up to eight months as adults while males live a much shorter life.
Ghost mantis ootheca
Female ghost mantis, ocellus
Sub-adult male ghost mantis's wing-buds
Sub-adult female ghost mantis's wing-buds
- For a technical discussion of an aspect of this species' anatomy refer to The cervical sclerites of Mantodea discussed in the context of dictyopteran phylogeny by Frank Wieland, Entomologische Abhandlungen 63, Museum für Tierkunde Dresden, 2006
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2008-07-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) pawsforthoughtpetcentres.co.uk
-  PhasmidsinCyberspace.com 2005
-  PrayingMantid.co.uk
-  2006 Bugman Educational Entoprises
-  exotic-pets.co.uk
- "Praying mantis good for the garden". The Mercury News. 2017-02-08. Retrieved 2017-11-22.
-  USA Mantis
-  Mantis Study Group Newsletter
-  Phyllocrania paradoxa(in Swedish
-  The Hymenopodid Praying Mantises (Mantodea: Hymenopodidae) of South Africa Compiled by Alfred P. Kaltenbach, Naturhistorisches Museum in Wien, Burgring 7, A-1014 Wien, Austria
-  Bolton Museum and Archive Service
-  2007 InsectaCulture Videos of Phyllocrania paradoxa
- Ghost mantis care sheet
- Deadlymantis.com This site have some amazing pictures of praying mantis and information on multiple species. Also, there are links to supplies for rearing and exotic live specimens.
- Media related to Phyllocrania paradoxa at Wikimedia Commons