Many wild animals in this world play dead to fool their predator and safe themselves from being eaten. We have mammal like possum
and reptile like hognose snake famous for the play-dead trick. There are also many insects capable of this ‘self-defense’ trick, and
mantis is one of them.
From my experience, many species of mantis are capable of playing dead. The one species that do that the most is dead leaf mantis,
especially during nymph stage. I imagine that living in a tropical forest full of fallen leaves; ‘drop dead’ is a great way of escaping
pursuing predator. Laying motionless on the forest floor blending in with all the leaves, it makes great camouflage for the mantis to
survive another day.
Among dead leaf mantis, Deroplatys lobata is the one species that do that most often. This species is rather skittish, and run away
frantically as soon as something larger approaching them (in this case it is human). When being cornered, this species of dead leaf
mantis will flip over and play dead, with all the legs retracted towards the body. For adult dead leaf mantis, it would appear to be just
like a piece of dead leaf on the ground, which is very difficult to spot. This species also stretch their body like a twig very often, obviously
trying to fool us into believing they are just part of the twig and leaf. They will do that even when I place them on a flat container with
white towel paper. Laying low on the ground with their head low and a pair of front legs stretching out, but that doesn’t mean the
mantis is not watching, as a pair of little round eyes has been following our every move all this time.
|D. desiccata L2 nymphs on the ground full of moss