family Thespidae Giglio-Tos, 1919
subfamily Amelinae Giglio-Tos, 1919
genus Yersiniops Hebard, 1931
Found in West Texas (Lake Colorado City or Ford Davis).
This species can easily be mistaken as grasshopper in the wild. The about inch long mantis has two hind legs very similar to the
grasshopper, and also a pair of small front legs that has been adapted to catching prey. This species is sometimes confused with the
ground mantis, Litanuetria minor, especially during nymph stage. Both Yersiniops sphodronica and Litanuetria minor species do live
together in southern Arizona.
Based on Ehrman 2002 Mantodea, there are only three species from Yersiniops genus. All three species of Yersiniops can be found in
the USA. My first experience with Yersiniops was back in 2008 when a few Yersiniops sphodronica adult specimens were collected
around Madera Canyon. These species was identified based on the sharper pointy eyes as compared to the Y. solitaria.
I have another chance to keep mantis of this genus again when a friend from Dallas were able to collect few adult female specimens in
West Texas. I received several oothecae around October last year. Oothecae went through a cold period during winter and only starting
to hatch 6 months later. I was not sure of the species name but from the pointy eyes and ootheca shape, it was likely to be Yersiniops
The hatching pattern is not the all out bursting type, but instead one or two nymphs emerged from the oothecae every 2-3 day.
Hatchlings are very small, probably only 3 mm long. The freshly hatched nymph has a very small pair of front leg, so feeding this
species could be a challenge, springtails is probably one of the best type of food for these ultra small nymphs.
This species do well in large enclosure with good land space, even though the mantis is small. The mantis could jump and escape
easily if not monitor carefully. After two molts, the mantis can finally feed on fruit flies which is a relief.
Here is a short movie clip of the Yersiniops sp. from Texas hunting springtails (click photo below for movie clip)