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May 02, 2005

Arthropods of Iraq: The Egyptian Flower Mantis

El-ahrairah of The Warren joins in our ongoing carnival of Iraq fauna identification with this picture.

Since you have that Lt. Col sending you photos of birds, I thought you might want some photos of the Bugs of Iraq. I took this photo late one night at the site of an Iraqi praying mantis. At least, that what I think it is, but some people thought it was a grasshopper. Anyway, it's different from what we see in the states. The second shot is where I found him.

That big chunk of metal in the center of the photo is a door hinge for the blast doors. I work in an Iraqi hardened aircraft shelter (HAZ). I didn't think it was bombed during the war, but after looking around, it looks like we put a bomb thru the side of the HAZ. It has since been repaired, so that's why it doesn't jump out at you (re-bar hanging down thru a hole is hard to miss). Anyway, when the bomb came thru, the blast doors where closed and either the explosion caused by the bomb or the resulting secondary explosions caused by what happened to be inside blew the blast doors off their hinges. So, all that remains is the hinge, the track where they blast doors swung out and a nasty groove in the concrete where they dragged the blast doors away.

While the photo El-A sent me was cleary of a mantis, I had no idea of the exact species, so it took me a while to nail down the exact id. It turns out to be a fine example of Blepharopsis mendica, the Egyptian/Devil Flower Mantis.

The flower mantises can apparently be kept as pets, but other than that there's not a lot of English language information about the species available on the Net, though the Arabic site AlSirhan has an entire page devoted to the species, along with a number of photos, here.

Posted by Bigwig at May 2, 2005 10:57 AM | TrackBack
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The praying mantis is lovely and impressive, but the blast door hinge seems an unlikely habitat. Could it be that you have a post out of place?

Posted by: refugee at May 2, 2005 03:47 PM

If you would follow the El-ahrairah link in the post to our website (and please do - we love site visits!) you would see that his base has trees surrounding/in it. I'm not sure exactly where it is, but I believe it's close to the Tigris River.

It is not at all inconceivable that a flying adult praying mantis would stray into a concrete bunker at night, especially if those lazy civilian engineers practiced poor light discipline and kept a door open with a light on to attract them, or at least the insects they feast upon.

Posted by: Captain Holly at May 2, 2005 07:23 PM

I saw one of these insects at LSA Anaconda about this time last year. It was hanging upside down on a flowering Oleander bush.

Posted by: Jonathan at May 4, 2005 09:29 AM

I actually have a question. I'm trying to get some information on what a night in Iraq might sound like.
I'm a sound designer working on an indie project about an american prisoner in the war. I'm trying to design something for his holding cell which has a small basement like window looking up into some kind of courtyard. I was about to put in some traditional crickiet backgrounds and realized that I didn't really know what it sounds like in Iraq. Any info on the names of insects or any other animal I could research would be appreciated. Thanks.

Posted by: Eric at August 14, 2005 04:46 PM
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