Gladiators / Heelwalkers / Mantophasmids
The name Mantophasmatodea is an amalgamation of the order names for praying mantids (Mantodea) and walkingsticks (Phasmatodea). It reflects the blend of physical and ecological characteristics found in these insects.
Classification & Distribution
- incomplete development (egg, nymph, adult)
- closely related to Grylloblattodea
Distribution: Rare. Found only in Tanzania, Namibia, and the southwestern corner of South Africa.North America
Worldwide Number of Families01 Number of Species06-8
Life History & Ecology
These insects are nocturnal predators. They live within rock crevices where they hide in clumps of grass and prey on spiders and other insects.
Physical FeaturesAdults and Immatures
- Antennae slender, filiform
- Mouthparts mandibulate, hypognathous
- Body cylindrical
- Tarsi 5-segmented
- Secondarily wingless
- Cerci short, one-segmented
No economic importance. They are extremely rare.
- Mantophasmatidae is the only family in this order. It contains three genera.
- The order Mantophasmatodea was erected in 2002. It is the first new insect order since Grylloblattodea was described in 1915.
- Mantophasmatodea is the smallest order of insects. Fewer than 8 species are known and two of these are based on specimens preserved in Baltic amber (40-45 million years old).
- So far, living members of this order have been found only in the Brandberg and Erongo Mountains of Namibia and the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
- "Gladiator" was chosen as a common name for these insects because of their physical similarity to armoured fighters in the movie Gladiator