Silhouetted Sibylla

After finding my first individual of the lovely preying mantid Sibylla pretiosa on one of my first days at Gorongosa, I have since discovered several more, all superbly camouflaged on tree trunks. They are perfect mimics of a spiderweb with bits of dirt and leaves wrapped all around. The last time I found one, I tried for something a little different than a regular whitebox shot. I like the result.


Silhouetted Sibylla pretiosa nymph.


A Mantid and its Tormentor


Omomantis zebrata


Lifting the wing reveals the wasp hiding inside.

A few nights ago in Chitengo Camp, I caught a beautiful praying mantid Omomantis zebrata. A gorgeous species normally found in bushes and trees in savanna habitats, it is also attracted to lights. I photographed him, and then decided to lift up his wings to check for any coloration, as many mantids and grasshoppers have wild colors on their hind wings. I opened up his wings and was at first disappointed; they were mostly clear, with a slight pinkish tinge. But then I noticed a small dark object hunched in a fold of the right wing. It clearly was not a part of the mantid, and closer examination showed it to be a female parasitoid wasp in the family Torymidae! This animal parasitizes the egg cases (oothecae) of mantids. Many have developed elaborate ways of locating these oothecae, and this individual was a hitchhiker. When the mantid found a mate, the wasp would have jumped ship to the female mantid, and then parasitized the female mantid’s eggs as she laid them. A pretty sorry state of affairs for the mantid, but a very clever method of reproduction for the wasp, and also a reminder to always take a second look at everything.


Torymid wasp, parasitoid of mantid oothecae.

Various shots from Gorongosa

A few photos from the past few days of several of the more spectacular animals found in Gorongosa National Park, in no particular order.


A beautiful grasshopper Acrida acuminata, about the length of my hand.


Enormous carabid beetle Thermophilum sp, with my index finger for scale.


Nymph of the Precious Sibyll Mantis, Sibylla pretiosa. One of the oddest looking mantids out there, and one of my favorites. 


A gorgeous day-flying noctuid moth, Egybolis vaillantina.


Something a little larger – an adult male Impala (Aepyceros melampus) at the edge of the miombo forest. Not what I usually shoot, but definitely fun to see.