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This species of mantis, although similar in size to the common Praying mantid (Mantis religiosa), is easily distinguished by the protrusion from its crown. Both male and females, even from first hatching carry this tall extension giving them a very alien appearance. They live in areas that are warm and dry and use their cryptic colouring of either greens and pinks or various shades of brown to keep them hidden from predators. The female may grow to a length of 10cm while the male is shorter and slimmer. The adult male has distinctive 'feather' type antennae. As with other forms of mantis most food is gathered in a very patient manner (they have been observed in the same place stalking prey on consecutive days). Poised by a flower, using their colours for camouflage, they use four legs to hold the position whilst the front legs are held up and folded. They swivel their heads and use binocular vision to locate small flying insects and then grab it from the air impaling it onto the serrations of the forelimbs so that it cannot escape. Eating the head and neck first is a way to ensure that the prey does not struggle. They will often rest upside down.
They live and hide within rough grass and annual flowering plants from which they hunt small insects.
This is an immature empusa pennata, as can be seen by the curled abdomen.