Scientific Name: Hierodula membranacea
Tamil Name : Kumbudu poochi
Descripton: Hierodula membranacea is a large mantid whose colors vary from green to yellow-green or even brown to reddish-brown. Its forelegs are strong and spiny.
Distribution and status: As the name suggests, it originates from Southeast Asia and is among the largest of mantises. Common.
Habitat: Commonly seen in wooded habitats. It is attracted to light and enters houses.
Habits: Like all arthropods Mantises have a hard shell called an exoskeleton. As they grow, they molt this exoskeleton to allow further growth until they reach their mature size, after which molting will be unnecessary. During the molting process, H. membranacea often does not eat, and avoids exposure to predators as its new shell will initially be soft and vulnerable. Adults mantis can jump around twice its body length, and although adults are capable of flight, some females occasionally have been known to jump as adults. When cornered by predators, the mantis will adopt a threat display wherein it rears back with its wings and forelegs spread and mouth opened. Should a predator ignore the display, the mantis will strike out with its forelegs and bite. While mantises are not venomous, such a defensive attack from this large species can be painful and possibly break the skin.
Food: It is a cannibalistic species, with the females sometimes eating the males after mating.
Life cycle: Reproduction occurs sexually in Hierodula membranacea, with very limited parthenogenesis abilities. A female can be identified from male by her six abdominal segments, whereas males have eight. She also has a much larger abdomen. After mating, the female may attempt to eat the male to increase fertility, which will entail a struggle The adult female will lay several egg cases (called oothecae) over her lifespan. From each of these oothecae, up to 150 nymphs hatch after six to eight weeks.
Role in the environment: It is an important component of the forests in India and is a colorful member of the class insecta.
Photo: Care Earth Trust