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Grizzled Mantis

Now here’s a Good Bug that even an astute nature lover might overlook.

It’s the grizzled mantis, known scientifically as Gonatista grisea. It’s a species found only in the Southeast, and primarily in Florida.

Like other mantids, this species will wait motionless for prey to happen along.

Unlike most mantids, it has a rough outline and a mottled gray/green color pattern that make the insect almost impossible to spot as it sits on the lichen-covered trunk of a pine tree or oak tree.

The grizzled mantis is also rather small, maybe three inches long. But don’t worry, it has plenty of fight.

One Bug Week staffer describes a nighttime encounter:

“I went out to the carport to jump in the car and make a late-night grocery run.

As I’m crossing the concrete I notice this weird moving thing that looks like a dead leaf. It stops, I get closer and crouch down and realize it’s a grizzled mantis. I’d only seen one other example, so this was pretty exciting.

I’m standing there, towering over this bug, and do you know what it does?

It bows up and starts waving its claws at me, like it’s challenging me to fight.

I probably outweighed it by a factor of 500,000-to 1. And it didn’t care. That’s how these critters have remained on planet Earth for tens of millions of years, I reckon. Attitude.”

Learn More

Florida Preying Mantids Key – UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department (pdf)