Sunday, August 24, 2014

Attack of the Alien!

Ok, so it’s not really an alien, but when you look with a macro lens, it sure looks like it could be. It’s a praying mantis. Since I have been talking a lot about garden creatures lately, it seemed logical to include my recent encounter with this mantis.

I was sitting on the back porch eating dinner, like I often do, and I spotted this green thing on the screen. I was lucky enough to have a camera-friendly mantis on my hands. I was right in his face with the camera. (Or her??? How can one tell????)

 As usual, I don’t know a whole lot about praying mantis insects, so I had to google them. According to Wikipedia, there are thousands of species of “mantodea” and “about 430 genera in 15 families worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. Most of the species are in the family Manidae.” They are sometimes referred to “praying mantis” due to the “prayer-like posture with folded fore-limgs, although the eggcorn ‘preying mantis’ is sometimes used in reference to their predatory habits.” The “closest relatives of mantises are the termites and cockroaches.” Ewwwww! Then why do mantises seem more friendly and kinda cute????

 Sheesh, here he is looking right at me. Ok, so that’s kinda freaky. Look at his (literal) bug eyes!

I always thought praying mantises were vegetarians. Oh how little I knew. According to Wikipedia, they eat small insects when they are young, but “large species of mantis have been known to prey on small scorpions, lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, fish, and even rodents; they feed on any species small enough for them to capture, but large enough to engage their attention.” Wow, really??!?!

I actually see praying mantises somewhat often in the garden. However, I see even more crickets. In fact, the border of my garden is full of them. They come hopping out every time I weed. It’s like a mini-horror movie...attack of the crickets. But I digress...this praying mantis was a good sport. He was still there the next morning, actually. He was gone the next day, though. I hope he (or she) found another praying mantis to frolic with.

To read more about praying mantises, go to Wikipedia. The more I read, the more I am fascinated by these alien-like creatures. Definitely check out the photo on there of the adult female performing a threat display. Crazy! I think I need to get a field guide on insects. They really are interesting creatures. Creepy, but interesting.

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