The Ghost Mantids get their name from their distinctive powdery white appearance, which is from a lack of pigmentation. They avoid sunlight and are mostly active at night, retreating into shade during the day. Ghost Mantis colonies are found throughout the temperate and tropical regions of Brahma, but thrive in the greatest numbers along the western coastline of the equatorial continent, with its rain forest cover and deep valleys. According to tradition* it is an invasive species, and was long believed to have off-world origins, arriving early in the reign of Tanha Brah. The “Song of Tusita Lost”, written during this period, describes Ghost Mantis swarms as a “white milk” descending from Ehe. Despite such ancient accounts there is no evidence to support the theory of an off-world origin, and many Educators today believe these stories were inspired by the unusual subtle body** of the Ghost Mantis, which bears little resemblance to other species on Brahma.
The Ghost Mantis ranges widely in size depending on elevation of habitat and rainfall. Alpine mantids tend to be the smallest, and live in smaller colonies, with individual animals averaging between 4 and 6 inches in length. Larger specimens are found along the western coast of the equatorial continent and on nearby island chains. The average length of an individual within this population 12 to 14 inches. Within this coastal population group there are several unique colonies inhabiting the Midnight Valley, a deep rift valley that lies within the canton of Tanha Brah. This population has developed in isolation due to a partial quarantine of the valley, which is believed by the local human population to be accessed from beneath by Preta. This isolation combined with optimal growing conditions to produce the largest Ghost Mantids on Brahma, with an average size of 24 inches. There have been confirmed cases of giantism within this population group. One deceased individual retrieved for study measured 61 inches from head to tip of wing casing.
The diet of the Ghost Mantis varies. The smaller alpine variety subsists on other insects, while their larger coastal cousins have a principle diet of birds, kooks, and small mammals.
The Ghost Mantis is not considered a threat to human life by most authorities on Brahma, and there has never been a confirmed case of a large Mantis preying on human beings. They avoid human contact, and will usually withdraw when approached. However, they are wild animals, and caution should be exercised if a mantis is encountered.
* There is much lore about a prophesied threat the Ghost Mantis allegedly poses to Brahma and to humans. Ancient myth and the testimony of people who claim to have visions of Ehe, have on many occasions resulted in the persecution of mantids, most famously in oa8760, when the largest island of the Dorian chain was deforested and salted in an attempt at extermination. This was, according to chronicles of the period, fueled by a religious fervor that swept the region, with whole communities claiming to have visions of Ehe. The population of mantids on the island chain took centuries to recover, and never regained the numbers recorded before oa8760.
** A Definition of Subtle Body: The structures and energy systems of an organism not usually visible to the human eye. These structures are permanent features just as the organs and glands of the gross body are permanent features. They are not an epiphenomena arising from the gross body (a common human misunderstanding) but are the less dense aspect of a single body that includes the full spectrum of elements from gross to subtle. The visibility of the subtle anatomy depends on the sense base of the observer, although it is also more or less visible depending on the developmental state of the world system.