Mantis invasion: UK on alert as insects travel north to Channel Islands | Science | News

Boy Kills Mantis and Releases Alien Wolf

The praying mantis, properly known as the European praying mantis (Mantis religiosa), derives its common and species name from the resting position of the insects’ largest forelegs, or “sympathetic”. Green beetles are characterized by elongated bodies, four wings, and distinctive, highly mobile, triangular heads with large compound eyes developed to aid in catching fast-moving and flying prey on their prey’s legs. This species is perhaps best known for how its females engage in sexual cannibalism—eating their mate’s head after, during, or sometimes even before intercourse.

According to Jersey Natural Environment, three European praying mantises have been reported to have arrived on the island in the past two weeks.

One is understood to have been found on a boat, but the rest were spotted on the east side of Jersey and are therefore believed to have flown.

Sightings of the slimy bugs have also been reported on social media, with one island resident reporting a “sadly dead” mantis in his garden, while another “found a mantis about 20 meters from the popular club, Chambers”.

Meanwhile, on the Guernsey Wildlife Facebook page, island resident Joe Gallez posted a photo of a praying mantis, asking if anyone could help him identify the insect.

Mr Gallez wrote: “I was sitting in the dressing room at Bells Football Club on Monday getting ready for the game and he came upon me which made me jump and shout a few choice words.

“I’ve never seen anything like it and I said it looked like a praying mantis to the other guys, but they took the mickey a little bit.

“I took a quick picture, picked it up and let it fly out the window.”

After seeing insects in the Mantis Islands, it may soon invade England. (Image: Getty Images)

The female mantis engages in cannibalism

This species is perhaps best known for how its females engage in sexual cannibalism (pictured). (Image: Creative Commons / Oliver Koemmerling)

Experts with Guernsey’s Agriculture, Farming and Land Management Services [ACLMS] praying mantises – although not native to the Channel Islands – have been “moving north” in recent years, the team told the Bailiwick Express.

They added that the insect’s range has been changing for some time due to a changing climate, and it can be found as far north as Poland.

“The species itself is widespread and occurs in Europe, Asia and Africa in its natural range.”

They noted that praying mantises can also be found in the wild in North America, where they are an introduced species.

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A boy looks at a mantis

Mantises can be found in the wild in North America, where they are an introduced species (Photo: Getty Images)

Praying mantis on a rose

In recent years, mantises have been “moving north,” experts said. (Image: Creative Commons / Huw Williams (Huwmanbeing))

Barry Wells, co-founder of Pollinator Project Guernsey, added that it was likely the praying mantises were blown from France by south-easterly winds.

He said: “If this was a one-off sighting, then it would be possible for one to get into a factory or a car, but with the last three or four sightings in Jersey, it is more likely that they flew in from France.

“The impact of climate change has seen insect and bird species move northwards more and more frequently.

“This is a clear example [is how] Species of bee-eaters, usually found in Asia, have been found in Norfolk.”

Jersey-based ecologist Piers Sangan agreed with this assessment, telling the Bailiwick Express that “given the timing of the sightings and the fact that they are all of the same species, it seems more likely that we may be seeing a naturally shifting population line. of species resulting from climate warming.

“The European praying mantis is one of the species likely to arrive [in Jersey] with our climate changing in an instant.”

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A mantis eats its prey

The ACLMS team said: “Prayers ambush insects with specially adapted arms.” (Image: Getty Images)

It remains to be seen whether praying mantises are a common fixture in the Channel Islands and when they might start arriving in the UK en masse.

There are precedents for the insect being seen in England, with a juvenile male mantis being found in a botanic garden in Stratford-upon-Avon in August last year.

And in the same year, wildlife illustrator Richard Lewington reported in 2020 that he found a nymph – a young mantis – in a garden in Cholsey, south Oxfordshire, where several mature specimens had previously been discovered.

The presence of nymphs was the first evidence of successful breeding of praying mantises in the wild in Britain.

Dr Björn Beckmann, from the Center for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh, told “It was always assumed that the climate in Britain was too cold and wet for European mantises to breed outdoors.

“But with climate change, conditions have probably become more favorable.”

The good news, however, is that experts don’t think migrating mantises can have a harmful effect.

The ACLMS team told the Bailiwick Express: “Praying mantises ambush insects with their specially adapted arms, so if their numbers increase, they will have some effect locally.

“The simple answer is that we don’t know for sure, but it is believed that it should have very few adverse effects because it has a very generalist diet and is also food for many other species – it is also a cannibal.”

They explained that it is important to distinguish between natural colonizers and non-native, invasive species.

They added: “Invasive non-native species are unwanted plants and animals that have been accidentally introduced as escapees on ships, containers, vehicles, etc., or released/escaped into an area where they cannot be found.

“An invasive species will have a significant impact on native biodiversity, economic costs or public health – for example, with Asian hornets.”

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