The false flower mantid is the common name for the Mantodea species Harpagomantistricolor (Linnaeus, 1758). This species uses camouflage as a defense mechanism. Limited information (Kaltenbach 1996, 1998) exists on its distribution in southern Africa or about its life history. This species, and Mantodea to an extent, are not usually included in biodiversity studies from this region. The aim of this study was to determine the distribution of this species in southern Africa based on museum collection records and to study the biology of Harpagomantistricolor under captive breeding conditions. The distribution of Harpagomantis and its morphological variety, i.e., discolor, were determined utilizing the historical insect collection records of seven national museums throughout South Africa. Field-collected H.tricolor males and females were mated and reared under laboratory conditions to record their life history parameters of nymphal duration, oothecae structure, size, and incubation duration, adult longevity, and sex ratio. The results of this study indicate that the mean duration of the lifecycle of H.tricolor is 191.33 ± 37.96 days. All but three H.tricolor individuals had five nymphal instars, and the mean duration of the nymphal stage was 140.20 ± 31.03 days. The mean duration of copulation was six hours, while the average incubation period of oothecae was 144.71 ± 9.33 days. These results indicate that oothecae of H.tricolor probably overwinter under field conditions and that males of this species have evolved various mechanisms to increase the likelihood of ensuring their own genetic offspring. This study bridges the gap in rudimental research in which Mantodea, in general, has been overlooked and establishes a basis on which ecological interactions, habitat preferences, and imminent threats to H.tricolor can be established.
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