Mantis hitchhikes to NI

Area of Expertise:

In November, the entomologists in Plant Health Surveillance were contacted about a package intercepted by veterinary inspectors doing an overnight action at the postal depots looking for illegal meat or plant health products.

The parcel originated in Tanzania and was marked as containing clothes but when opened it was full of praying mantis egg-cases and the juveniles had already started to emerge.

It included egg-cases of three species of mantids, two of which emerged (Idolomantis diabolica and Heterochaeta spp). About a dozen parasitic wasps also emerged from the egg-cases.

Praying mantis
Praying mantis
Praying mantises are popular pets for hobbyists and these species are some of the more valuable enthusiasts may keep. As is the case for many hobbies, there is an active trade over social media. Sometimes the species are collected from the wild. No praying mantises are listed under CITES and these species are not able to survive outdoors in Northern Ireland, being adapted to tropical conditions.

Praying mantises eat flies and do not cause damage to plants nor pose an animal or human health risk.

The insects were kept for some weeks to ensure proper identification and the Ulster Museum has shown interest in receiving some specimens for educational purposes