A new alien mantis in Italy: is the Indochina mantis Hierodula patellifera chasing the train for Europe?
The presence of the Indochina mantis Hierodula patellifera (Mantidae, Mantinae) as a new alien species in Italy is reported, with the description of the first stable macro-population in Europe. This macro-population shows a wide distribution, comprising several fragmented and reproducing sub-populations in Northern Italy and one in Southern France. Specimens and individuals were collected or observed on trees and ornamentals in urban ecosystems with the help of citizen science. A spatial analysis (Average Nearest Neighbour) was undertaken to characterise the present distribution pattern, evidencing the hot spots of arrival and the local spreading process. The random pattern of presence in the local urban textures and the resistance of this species to the challenging North Italian climate, are here discussed in the perspective of a future expansion to central and Northern Europe, using probably the main railways to arrive at depots and cities, travelling with Asian goods. Identification characters are also presented to separate this alien species from the other species of the subfamily Mantinae, native or introduced, present in Europe.