Posts Tagged: praying mantis
If you don't know what it is, don't kill it.
That insect in your garden could very well be a beneficial insect.
If you operate on the "shoot-first-ask-questions later" or "the only good bug is a dead bug," no telling how many insects--and generations--you'll be destroying.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, tells this story that's worth remembering.
"Last week I was walking across Capitol Park in Sacramento when I observed a smartly dressed young woman in her 20s stomp a praying mantis and grind it into the sidewalk. She exclaimed to her phenotypically similar friend: 'Did you ever see such an ugly, icky bug?'"
And, many years ago, Shapiro encountered a man in College Park, Davis, in the act of stomping a Tiger Swallowtail.
Shapiro asked him why he was doing this.
The man replied: "This is the bug that has the big green caterpillar that eats my tomato plants!"
When Shapiro told him it wasn't, the man told him to check his information, and that "I'm right and you're wrong."
There is indeed a lot of misinformation and misidentification out there.
Tabatha Yang of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis relates the story about an avid gardener who absolutely loved ladybugs (aka lady beetles) because of their voracious appetites for aphids. But when our avid gardener came across "some weird black and orange bugs," she promptly killed them.
Little did she know that she was killing immature ladybugs.
Then there's the story about a UC Master Gardener who encountered a "green-eyed golden bumblebee-like" insect that frightened her because it buzzed so loudly around her flower beds. So, she killed it. Turns out it was a pollinator, a male Valley carpenter bee, also known as a "teddy bear."
And, can you imagine what goes through people's minds when they meet up with a Jerusalem cricket in the mud after a rain? Whoa! Bug-o-mania!
Here's where the Bohart Museum, 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, UC Davis campus, can help. If you live in California and see an insect and wonder if it's beneficial insect or a pest--or just want to know what it is--take a photo of it and email it to the Bohart. Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum (home of more than seven million specimens) and professor of entomology at UC Davis, identifies insects in between research, teaching, administering the Bohart Museum, and other duties. Her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe, just maybe, this will save a few praying mantids, ladybugs, Valley carpenter bees and Jerusalem crickets./span>
Praying mantis with remnants of a meal. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is an immature ladybug (aka lady beetle). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This male Valley carpenter bee is a pollinator, not a pest. The female Valley carpenter bee is solid black. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Jerusalem cricket is often mistaken for a pest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The California Buckeye (Junonia coenia), with its bold eyespots and white bars, is an easily recognizable butterfly.
The problem: getting close enough for a photo and then patiently waiting for it to open its wings. At the first indication of danger, it flutters away.
The eyespots are supposed to scare away predators, but they certainly don't scare away a praying mantis.
Kristen Kolb, master gardener extraordinaire who helps tend the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, recently spotted a ripped-apart Buckeye in the sedum.
We suspect a praying mantis grabbed it and feasted on the head, thorax and abdomen, leaving behind the wings.
The wings with the bold eyespots.
Buckeye spreads it wings on an African daisy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Shattered Buckeye, probably the work of a praying mantis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The predator? Could have been this praying mantis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The last time we encountered a praying mantis it was waiting for prey on a plant by the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Then we saw two more that day in front of the Laidlaw facility. They jumped on us while we were watching the first one.
Surely we didn't look like prey!
Staff research associate/beekeeper Elizabeth Frost tends the garden in front and notices many of the stealthy little critters. They're perfectly camouflaged and ready to pounce.
The egg cases she earlier saw have hatched. One little, two little, three little mantids....
And probably many more.
They stay because the area is a good source of food--honey bees, sweat bees, butterflies, hover flies...
Those praying mantids grab unsuspecting--and sometimes quite slow--prey in their spiked forelegs and it's off with the head. Fast food it is. Fast food in the slow food movement....
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology peers at a praying mantis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Praying mantis climbs on the back of Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Well, hello there!
A praying mantis, perfectly camouflaged in bushes outside the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, was searching for prey when we spotted it. Front legs upraised in a "praying position," head twisting, eyes turning, it waited motionlessly for lunch.
Also called a mantid (order Mantodea), the praying mantis is a favorite of insect photographers. A close-up of the mouth and the "spiky" forelegs (used for grasping prey) make you really appreciate what this insect can do and make you glad you're not another insect.
This one (below) was immature. Tomorrow we'll show you shots of it landing on a human being.
Praying mantis exploring its surroundings at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Acrobatic praying mantis in action. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The last thing the prey of a praying mantis sees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It was not a good day to "stop and smell the roses."
A vespid wasp apparently lingered too long on a rose--perhaps dropping by for a sip of nectar or seeking unsuspecting prey.
What it found was another predator, a praying mantis looking for breakfast.
The scenario unfolded last week in the Storer Garden at the University of California, Davis.
The mantid grasped the wasp in its spiked forelegs and methodically began to consume it.
It bit into the head first, thorax next, and then snatched a wing.
All that was left: a wing and a prayer.
On a Wing and a Prayer