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First Records of Gonatista grisea (Grizzled Mantis) from Alabama with a Brief Review of the Current Distribution in the US
Brian D. Holt, William Lilly, and Sean Sanders

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 17, Issue 2 (2018): N15–N18

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N15 2018 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 17, No. 2 B.D. Holt, W. Lilly, and S. Sanders First Records of Gonatista grisea (Grizzled Mantis) from Alabama with a Brief Review of the Current Distribution in the US Brian D. Holt1,*, William Lilly2, and Sean Sanders3 Abstract - Gonatista grisea (Grizzled Mantis) was previously known in the US from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. This paper presents a new state record with a brief discussion of the currently known distribution in the southeastern US. Gonatista grisea (Fabricius) (Grizzled Mantis) is a cryptically colored species (Fig. 1) distributed in Cuba and the southeastern US. Previously undocumented from Alabama, it was known to have occurred through Florida and the Coastal Plain of Georgia and South Carolina (Gurney 1950). However, Dakin and Hays (1970) suggested the occurrence of the Grizzled Mantis in Alabama when they included it in the Mantidae key of A Synopsis of Orthoptera (sensu lato) of Alabama. In the footnotes, the authors clarified that no specimens had been recorded from the state, but that they believed the species likely occurred in Alabama based on 2 extreme northwest Florida specimens present in the Auburn University (Auburn, AL) entomology collection. A search of that collection by B.D. Holt yielded 2 1Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Section, 64 North Union Street, Montgomery, AL 36130. 2225 Rue Maison Drive West, Apartment M, Mobile, AL 36608. 34657 South State Highway 605, Dothan, AL 36301. *Corresponding author - brian.holt@dcnr.alabama.gov. Manuscript Editor: Jason Cryan Notes of the Southeastern Naturalist, Issue 17/2, 2018 Figure 1. Mobile County, AL, Grizzled Mantis specimen before collection. 2018 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 17, No. 2 N16 B.D. Holt, W. Lilly, and S. Sanders specimens fitting the locations described by Dakin and Hays. The label data is as follows: Chipley, FL, 15 October 1930, O.B. Pullen; and Tallahassee, FL, 13 September 1948, Edgar Evans. These locations are in Washington and Leon counties, respectively. No Alabama specimens were present in the collection. On 21 October 2016, W. Lilly photographed and captured a single Grizzled Mantis (Fig. 1) at a private residence in Mobile County off Boykin Road, 0.24 road-km east of Skyline Road (30.56153°N, 88.19193°W). This record represents the first documented occurrence of Grizzled Mantis in Alabama and extends the currently recognized distribution for the species ~244 km to the west from the nearest occurrence in Chipley, FL (Fig. 2). Sean Sanders observed and collected another Grizzled Mantis at his home in Houston County off County Road 203, 0.28 road-km south of County Road 59 (31.11920°N, 85.45100°W) on 17 September 2017. Numerous individuals have been observed by S. Sanders at this location over the 6 years previous to this collection on limbs of cultivated Carya illinoinensis Figure 2. Distribution of Gonatista grisea (Grizzled Mantis). N17 2018 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 17, No. 2 B.D. Holt, W. Lilly, and S. Sanders (Wagenheim) K. Koch (Pecan). The Houston County specimen is deposited in the Auburn University Museum of Natural History (AUMNH), Dr. Charles Ray confirmed its identification (AUMI00194521). The Mobile County specimen is currently held in the private collection of W. Lilly and will be transferred to AUMNH at a later date. We used dichotomous keys to identify specimens. In preparation for this note, we constructed a county distribution map (Fig. 2) based on literature records and vouchered museum specimens from Auburn University, University of Georgia (Athens, GA), Florida State Collection of Arthropods (Gainesville, FL), Clemson University (Clemson, SC), and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC, on long-term loan to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, OH) (Blatchley 1920; Rehn and Hebard 1912, 1914a, 1914b, 1916). Rehn and Hebard’s study (1916) of the Dermaptera and Orthoptera of the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions found the Grizzled Mantis only occurred in what they described as the Sabalian zone. This zone corresponds with the natural distributions of Sabal palmetto (Walt.) Lodd. ex J.A. and J.H. Schultes (Cabbage Palmetto), for which the zone is named, and Serenoa repens (Bartr.) Small (= Serenoa serrulata [Michx.] Nichols.) (Saw Palmetto) (Rehn and Hebard 1916, Wright 1926), both of which appear to be sympatric with that of the Grizzled Mantis. Most of the Grizzled Mantis records are restricted to the Gulf Coastal Plain. However, we located 6 records outside this region and the currently accepted distribution for the species (Gurney 1950). A single specimen was reported from Evansville, IN, and was considered to have been introduced via tropical fruits (Blatchley 1920). In Georgia, 2 specimens were collected at different locations outside the Gulf Coastal Plain. One specimen was collected on 26 September 2008 in Clarke County, GA, on the University of Georgia campus and is housed in their entomology collection (Richard Hoebeke, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, pers. com.). The other was collected from Putnam County, GA, on 8 September 1961. The collection sites for these 2 specimens are located within the Piedmont ecoregion. It is unknown if they represent naturally occurring populations. Interestingly, 3 vouchered specimens were collected in Texas. One specimen is accessioned within the collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (now held at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA) and has no other information attributed to it (Rehn and Hebard 1912; Jason Weintraub, Drexel University, Philadelphia, pers. com.). Two additional specimens are located in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History collection. Like the first, no other collection information is attributed to either specimen. These records could very well represent a natural population or populations, but without additional collection information their status is uncertain. The Grizzled Mantis was likely present in Alabama, but undocumented until now due to its excellent crypsis (its mottled grays and greens blend excellently with lighter-colored tree barks) and lack of focused field surveys. Additional searches within Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas could yield additional county and state records, especially through the Gulf Coastal Plain and, specifically, coastal counties. Acknowledgments. The authors thank Richard Hoebeke (University of Georgia), Kyle Schnepp (Florida State Collection of Arthropods), Nicole Gunter (Cleveland Museum of Natural History), and Jason Weintraub (Drexel University) for reviewing specimens in their care. Additional thanks to Charles Ray for allowing access to the Auburn University Museum of Natural History collections, Ashley S. Peters for generating the map of G. grisea, and T. Wayne Barger for reviewing the manuscript. We accessed museum specimens for South Carolina via the Clemson University Arthropod Museum Database. 2018 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 17, No. 2 N18 B.D. Holt, W. Lilly, and S. Sanders Literature Cited Blatchley, W.S. 1920. Orthoptera of Northeastern America: With Especial Reference to the Faunas of Indiana and Florida. The Nature Publishing Co., Indianapolis, IN. 798 pp. Dakin, M.E., and K.L. Hays. 1970. A synopsis of Orthoptera (sensu lato) of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 404. Auburn, AL. 118 pp. Gurney, A.B. 1950. Praying mantids of the United States, native and introduced. Pp. 339–362, In Smithsonian Institution. Board of Regents. Annual report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution (1950). Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Rehn, J.A.G., and M. Hebard. 1912. On the Orthoptera found on the Florida Keys and in extreme southern Florida. I. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 64:235–276. Rehn, J.A.G., and M. Hebard. 1914a. On the Orthoptera found on the Florida Keys and in extreme southern Florida. II. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 66:373–412. Rehn, J.A.G., and M. Hebard. 1914b. Records of Dermaptera and Orthoptera from west central and southwestern Florida, collected by William T. Davis. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 22:96–116. Rehn, J.A.G., and M. Hebard. 1916. Studies in the Dermaptera and Orthoptera of the Coastal Plain and Piedmont region of the Southeastern United States. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 68:87–314. Wright, A.H. 1926. The vertebrate life of the Okefinokee Swamp in relation to the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Ecology 7:77–95.