Praying mantis vs. Styrian praying lacewing

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Praying mantis in the smithery of a door in Graz, Austria

I am a sucker for wrought ironwork. On a walk through Graz, I discovered this image of a praying mantis (Mantis religiosa) as a decoration on a house entrance. What might have been the motivation for this work of art? [German]

A reference to the Styrian praying lacewing?

Well, the praying mantis was my first guess. At home again, I had another idea. Could the wrought iron figure be a Styrian praying lacewing (Mantispa styriaca)? A bug that we Styrians are particularly proud of. Although it is not the case that its occurrence is limited to Styria.

In the Natural History Museum of Graz, there is even a large model of this lacewing. And the first scientist to describe this insect – Nikolaus Poda von Neuhaus – published his work Insecta Musei Graecensis in Graz. So there are several reasons to be enthusiastic about this animal in the capital of the Austrian state of Styria.

My impression of this smithery

Whether it’s a mantis or a lacewing, I don’t know the definitive answer. But I love the motive. The little hero looks able to resist. And who says that only the image of a watchful dog is a suitable sign on a house entrance?

Sources / More info

  • Link Description of a Styrian praying lacewing on Wikipedia
  • Link Description of a praying mantis on Wikipedia