A family picked up a surprise souvenir from their travels to South Africa after finding a praying mantis among their luggage on their return.
The adult-sized insect gave the Menzies family from Berwick a huge shock when it was discovered among the family’s washing, the day after their return from a two-week holiday.
Unsure of what to do with the six-legged stowaway, mum Pippa placed the mantis in a plastic tub lined with twigs and grass. She then contacted Drusillas Park’s bug expert Angela Hale who agreed to take the mantis in.
Angela commented, “Praying mantis are intriguing creatures that pose no threat to humans. They are not difficult to care for but you do need to know what you are doing in order to ensure they remain happy and healthy. Pippa did the right thing by getting in touch and we will provide the mantis with a good home.”
Jake, aged 9, Jamie, aged 7, and Archie Menzies, aged 6, accompanied the praying mantis to Drusillas for the changeover. Fascinated by their tropical travelling companion, Angela helped the boys handle the insect and explained about it.
She said, “Praying mantis live in temperate and tropical climates around the world. They are named due to their two prominent front legs, which are bent and held together in a manner indicative of prayer.
“They are exclusively predatory and will only feed on live prey, eating almost any insect including crickets, grasshoppers, bees, moths and even their own kind.”
Angela added, “Praying mantis are expert hunters; they have a triangular head which they are able to turn 180 degrees to look for food.
“Luckily for our new arrival, they do not need to eat every day and generally feed every one to four days depending on the species. They extract all the water they require from their food and the vegetation around them.”