Friendly mantis found at city works yard

Odd-looking insect not usually found in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area

The mantis religiosa

The mantis religiosa

The latest visitor to Parksville seemed friendly and was being shown around the city works offices until he flew into a staff member’s face and made her scream.

Praying mantises are common and harmless in the tropics, but they don’t belong on Vancouver Island, confirmed UVic biology professor Neville Winchester.

City employee Stewart Whitworth said he’s known for having a good eye for detail and small creatures and he noticed the insect hanging around the city works yard last Thursday.

“It seemed friendly because it moved so slow,” he said so they took several pictures of it and showed it around the office until it gave someone a scare and they decided to leave it outside on a tree.

There is an introduced species taking hold in the southern Okanagan, Winchester said, but the mantis religiosa found in Parksville is not known in B.C. and his best guess is that the province’s weak regulations on introduced species allowed someone to buy it as a pet.

He also suggested it is possible a recent storm carried it in from somewhere far south.

He said that while it is a predator he doesn’t believe they could establish a breeding population in the area and doesn’t think it is a big problem.