This afternoon I was walking down the path to a carpark near Sayalonga when I saw it. And it saw me and looked at me with serious doubt in its triangular pinpointed eyes.
I think this lovely little beast is a Mediterranean Mantis, Iris oratoria, on the basis of the relatively short cerci (the paired spikes on its back limbs) and eye shape, comparing it to internet images of this species. This seems annoyingly vague for a species that has a gigantic dead-give-away i.d. card – the enormous fake eyespot on its hindwings when flashed in defense. It looks something like this:
That’s a pretty good clue. But there is a reason this is CaPro’s shot via wikimedia commons and not mine. I like bugs. Even mantids. I feel privileged that this particular creature chose to give me a good hard stare, pose for a set of photos, sway like a leaf for a minute and, when I waved a boot to encourage it off the path to safety, shuttled promptly into the grasses. To get the threat pose from the creature I would need to … well, threaten it. But I hate baiting wildlife. It seems a dishonourable thing for a wildlife lover to do. So I shall have to state my best guess and leave it at that with nothing but a mantis’s hard stare between my conscience and perfect peace.