Polhappler's Mantis
Mantis colossaeus
Family: Insectoid
Classification: Non-sapient
Manifestation: Corporeal
Pronunciation: pol-HAP-lers/MAN-tis

The Polhappler's mantis (pol-HAP-lers/MAN-tis) is a mantis approximately the size of a small pony. It is native to the North American Midwest and South Central Plains areas, as well as parts of Central America, largely within Mishipeshu and Baja Province. The Polhappler's Mantis was named after Magimundi explorer A. Polhappler who "discovered" it in the early 1800s. However, they were already known to the First Nations people living in the area. There has been a movement started to call them by their Comanche name, "aruka tuaahtaki."

These creatures are employed in agriculture, both as a work animals and transportation. They are occasionally eaten by humans, but they are more commonly used as a source of food for livestock and pets.

A Polhappler's mantis has a triangular head atop a fully articulated neck, which allows it to rotate its head nearly 270 degrees. It has two raptorial front legs, and four posterior legs. It has two translucent wings. A mature female Polhappler's mantis grows to about 8 feet long and weighs 250 lbs. The male is smaller than the female, growing to about 6 feet long and weighing about 175 lbs. All Polhappler's mantises are capable of bearing many times their own weight.

Polhappler's mantises cannot fly, but they can jump over 20 feet in the air. They can also perform complex maneuvers while in the air, and "mantis rodeos" are a common sight in Baja Province. However, the most useful feature of the jumps are that a simple spell performed while at the apex of the jump can cause the mantis, its rider, and cargo to teleport up to 100 miles away. This allows a very effective system of long distance transportation for those who can get the hang of riding the mantis.

Polhappler's mantises need to be gentled before they can successfully be ridden. There are many terrible (and humorous) accounts of would-be riders flying into the next field when they attempted to mount a supposedly docile mantis. The process of accustoming a mantis to a rider takes time, patience, and the use of positive reinforcement, and is the subject of many books.

Polhappler's mantises can also be trained to pull a cart or plow. Such mantises usually have their wings clipped to prevent damaging the cart should the mantis startle or jump. For some reason, the mantis is unable or unwilling to jump if its wings are clipped.

Polhappler's mantises live for about five years. Females lay eggs each fall, typically 10-15 in number, and if fertilized, they will hatch in the spring. A female Polhappler's mantis does perform sexual cannibalism. It is unknown exactly what purpose this serves, although it has been speculated that the male cannot finish the act unless its head is removed from its body. Polhappler's mantises become dormant in the winter when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. In warmer climates, they may not become dormant at all.

Polhappler's mantises have excellent camouflage and can even change their color and markings like a chameleon or jackalope. When at rest and not hiding, they are bright green. A Polhappler's mantis will molt every other month in its first year as it grows to adulthood. Polhappler's mantises do not have wings until adulthood.

A juvenile Polhappler's mantis is called a nymph. The collective noun for a group of Polhappler's mantises is a swarm.

Habitat

Polhappler's mantises thrive in large, open areas, like fields and praries. They require a source of fresh water. They do not create dens or shelters, but will rest under trees during heavy rains.

Biology

Polhappler's mantises are similar to the common praying mantis, although much larger. Adults have four non-functional wings. The necks of the Polhappler's mantis are more articulated than other mantises, allowing them a further range of motion.

Diet

Wild Polhappler's mantises are carnivorous ambush predators. They will eat insects, as well as small mammals, birds, and fish.

Magical Uses

Polhappler's mantises are used for transportation, entertainment, and as draft animals, particularly on the large industrial magiflora farms. They are edible, although they are usually used for animal feed. Fried or grilled Polhappler's mantis legs are a popular food at Magimundi county fairs. The antennae of the Polhappler's mantis can be fashioned into a wand. Their molted skin, once properly charmed, can be made into socks that allow the wearer to jump up to 12 feet.

Defense

Experienced handlers are known to use the spell "kàpakamigà" on Polhappler's mantises, for euthenasia or emergencies, that dehydrate the creature, causing instant death. Heat spells should be quite effective as well.

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