Orthodera novaezealandiae

Geographic Range

O. novaezealandiae is native only to New Zealand.


This species prefers shrubland and land that is open. It uses leafy vegetation for camouflage and as a position to capture prey. It gets all of it water needs from its prey and from water caught in leaves.

Physical Description

Mass is not available. Body length for the species varies between 3.5-4.5 inches. The head of the mantis is triangular with large well developed compound eyes, which are far apart to allow the best possible binocular vision. Though these eyes are well developed and the positioning is optimal, these mantises have a peculiar blind spot which affects the recognition of the prey. The mantis is well designed for to be a predator. Its front legs are long and are armored with spines that are extremely sharp and that can be used as daggers. As in most insects, there is a size difference between females and males. In this species, as in most praying mantises, the female is larger. In this species, the wings are different in the "development of the archedictyon and the absence of cross-veins in the forewing". (Ramsay. 1990)


Mating occurs and eggs are produced in the autumn. Although the female of some species of praying mantises is known for eating the head of its mate after copulation, this rarely occurs in this species and when it does, it may be an artifact of captivity. The egg sacks (oothecae) are deposited on flat open surfaces between Febuary and continue through to April . Laying can take between 3-5 hours. The female produces between 2-5 egg sacks which hold between 5-70 eggs each. The mantis passes the winter in the egg stage and is triggered to emerge by warming spring temperatures. When the nymphs emerge in the spring, all the hatchlings hatch within 11 days of each other. Nymphs pass through six stages (instars). Each stage lasts between 10-15 days and it can take between 3-6 months before the mantis is mature.


This species is very quiet and timid; it rarely goes indoors and if it does it will not stay for long. When resting, it looks for flat surfaces that are high up, for example, on the top of a leaf.

Food Habits

Like other praying mantises, this species is a strictly carnivorous predator that feeds primarily on live arthropods. It eats grasshoppers, cockroaches, houseflies, blowflies,wasps, buterflies, moths and spiders. This mantis tends to concentrate on the species that is most abundant in its territory. It is also able to prey on an animal that is the same size as itself.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

This mantis species eats pest insects. The praying mantis has a very large appetite, leading many people to use them to control insects in their gardens.

Conservation Status

If pesticides are used, the mantis has no way to protect itself from the chemicals and also its food supply diminshes.

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated

Other Comments

This species and several other varieties of preying mantises are not well studied. More research would be beneficial.


Maushumi Purkayastha (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


Ramsay, G.W., Fauna of New Zealand Number 19 Wellington, N.Z.: DSIR Publishing, 1990.

Patterson, Kathleen, J, "The Praying Mantis", Conservationist, June 193 v47 n6 p30(6).

Preston-Mafham, Ken, Grasshopers and Mantids of the World London, UK .:Blandford 1990.