I found Orthodera gunnii, previously known as Orthodera marginata, from family Mantidae, in my garden in February of 2007. According to both The Australian Museum and CSIRO, who identified the mantid, the Hunter Valley is outside of its expected range.
Orthodera gunnii closely resembles the more common Othodera ministralis, the Garden or Green Praying Mantid. It is similar in size, colour and habits, with the most noticable difference being the face colouration which is green in the common Garden Mantid and mauve in Orthodera gunnii.
A mantid scurries away as I attempt to photograph it
The hatchlings, (nymphs), emerge from the ootheca resembling small wingless adults and develop through a series of stages (instars), moulting several times before reaching maturity. Mantids are good examples of insects that have gradual metamorphosis.
As they grow, the wings develop. With each moult the wing buds increase in size. When the wings are fully developed, the mantid has become an adult. There are exceptions, however, where some adults have stunted wings or no wings at all. When young, they will eat their siblings if food is scarce.
Illustrating the face and inner front leg colouration
Appearing to only have two sets of legs, the third pair are typically tucked under the head against its thorax