Art. XV.—Note on the Mantis found in New Zealand.
[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 4th November, 1896.]
Only one species of Mantis is known to me in New Zealand, which is the following:—
Orthodera ministralis, Fabricius.
Orthodera prasina, Burmister, Handbook, ii., p. 526 (1839). Mantis rubrocoxata, Serville, Orthoptères, p. 203 (1839). Bolidena hobsonii, Blanchard, Voy. “Astrolabe” et “Zelée,” Zool., iv., p. 356, pl. i., fig. 7 (1853). Orthodera prasina, H. de Saussure, Mel. Orthop. Mantides, p. 163 (1870). Mantis novœ-zealandiœ, Colenso, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xiv., p. 277 (1882). Mantis, sp., Potts, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xvi., p. 114 (1884). Tenodera intermedia, Hudson, Man. N.Z. Entomology, p. 109, pl. 17, fig. 2 (1892).
Inhabits Eastern Australia and Tasmania.
In this species the pronotum is rather broad, roof-shaped, and gradually getting broader towards the anterior end, which is truncated. It is also easily recognised by the black spot bordered with blue, on the inner side of each anterior femur.
The Rev. W. Colenso says that he first saw this insect at Napier in 1878. He had long been on the lookout for a New Zealand Mantis, as Dr. Sinclair had taken egg-cases to England nearly forty years before.* It does not appear to have reached Wellington in 1891, for Mr. G. V. Hudson thought that the species was confined to the South Island, his specimens having been obtained in Nelson. I never saw it in Auckland or the Waikato, where I lived from 1866 to 1870, but a specimen was sent me from Auckland about ten years ago.
[Footnote] *See Dieffenbach's “New Zealand,” vol. ii., p. 280.
I first made the acquaintance of this insect in the summer of 1873–74, at Clyde, in Central Otago, where it was looked upon as a new-comer. Mr. Potts observed it first in Canterbury in 1880. Since then it has become common, and is often brought to me to name, but always as an insect not seen before.
I think, therefore, that the species has been unintentionally introduced—into Auckland from Sydney, and into Otago from Tasmania or Victoria—at the time of the commencement of the gold-diggings, when large quantities of hay were brought to Otago from Australia. However, according to Mr. Wood Mason, New Zealand specimens have the reticulation of the tegmina less dense than those from Australia.
It is remarkable that this insect should have increased so much in numbers while the Phasmas, which used to be common, appear to have been exterminated in the neighbourhood of Christchurch by the introduced birds.
Tenodera intermedia was described in 1870 from a single female specimen in the Paris Museum, which was said to have come from Auckland; but no other specimen has been found in New Zealand, and it is hardly possible that so large an insect—more than 3in. long—should have escaped the keen eyes of Mr. Colenso and other collectors. I think, therefore, that we may suspect the correctness of the locality of the type specimen. This species may be easily distinguished from the last by the shape of the pronotum, which is narrow, the sides nearly parallel behind, slightly widening over the legs, and then narrowing towards the anterior end, which is rounded.