Posts Tagged: praying mantis
No honey bees. Let them bee.
This week we watched a praying mantis slide beneath a purple coneflower (Echinacea pupurea) at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility of University of California, Davis.
Its body camouflaged, the mantid looked like one of the coneflower petals.
Within minutes, it seized an unsuspecting honey bee.
Death beneath the purple coneflower.
It's a well-equipped predator, with keen eyesight, a rotating head, and two spiked forelegs that grab and grasp unsuspecting prey. It's not about "who's coming to dinner"; it's "what's coming to dinner."
Plus, it appears to "pray" before dinner. How disconcerting to the prey.
This praying mantis (below) was hanging out this week at the front entrance of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis.
It was perusing the menu: tasty sweat bees, succulent hover flies, luscious butterflies, piquant ants and yes--savory honey bees--an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Fortunately, it didn't head over to the apiary, where the beekeepers tend 110 hives, each with approximately 60,000 bees, or a total of more than six million bees.
Thanks a million.
On the Hunt
An egg case (here's one at right) hatched on Emily Bzdyk's desk this week.
"I came to work and there were about 200 of them on my desk," said Bzdyk, a first-year graduate student in entomology who studies with Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor and vice chair of the Department of Entomology.
Bzdyk found a home for some of them, and others will be exhibited at Picnic Day. The museum houses not only seven million insect specimens, but live ones as well (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Vietnamese walking sticks, spiders, tarantulas and the like).
Mantids, from the order Mantodea, are carnivorous. No vegetarian diet for them. They hide in the vegetation and snare insects such as flies, mosquitoes, butterflies, grasshoppers, blow flies, wasps, houseflies, moths, cockroaches and spiders.
When 200 or so emerge from an egg case at the same time and there's no food to eat, they eat one another.
Goodbye, brother. Goodbye, sister.
As adults, even the mating game can turn deadly. After they mate, the female sees her lover as protein--protein to develop her eggs.
"Praying mantises lurk among vegetation, where they are well camouflaged, and seize insects when they come near," say Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney in their newly published book, "Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species" (Stackpole Books).
"When they catch a butterfly or grasshopper they consume everything except the wings," they write.
The mantids "sometimes prey on small frogs and lizards, and one was observed clutching a short-tail shrew."
If you look on You Tube, you'll see them attacking even larger prey, such hummingbirds.
And eating them.
Tiny Praying Mantis
Let Us Prey
Off with the Head
Everything's coming up roses at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus.
Make that rose-haired tarantulas.
See, the Bohart not only houses some seven million insect specimens in its quarters in 1124 Academic Surge, but they have a few live ones, too.
Such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, praying mantids and rose-haired tarantulas.
The Bohart, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology is one of our favorite places. You never know what you'll find.
We stopped by the museum last week and one of the Bohart student employees, Nanase Nakanishi, a UC Davis senior majoring in animal science, was caring for the occupants.
She and her colleagues were feeding the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, aka "hissers." While they were eating, Nanase picked up the rose hair, a favorite among budding entomologists and pet enthusiasts. On her red blouse, it looked like very much like a beautiful brooch. It's a soft, docile, gentle critter.
Nanase, who has worked at the Bohart for three years, feels very much at home there.
And, no wonder. Following graduation, she wants to study veterinary medicine and become a veterinarian.
Here's a "cold case" to investigate.
Check your backyard or neighborhood park and see if a praying mantis has deposited an egg case on a tree limb, plant or fence.
Case in point: Over at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the UC Davis campus, a frequently watered potted plant attracts scores of honey bees seeking water to deliver to their hives.
It also has attracted a cunning praying mantis.
She just deposited an egg case on one of the stems, knowing that when her offspring emerge next spring there will be plenty of food for them.Praying mantises (Tenodera sinensis) are fierce-looking, combative insects with voracious appetites. They'll eat any insect they can catch and overcome. And not just insects: they've been known to attack and kill everything from hummingbirds to mice.
Call it a banty-rooster complex; nothing seems to frighten the pugnacious praying mantis.
About this time of year, the praying mantis deposits her eggs on a twig or stem or fence. The frothy secretion hardens into a shell to protect it from the elements and from predators.
Fast-forward to spring or nearly spring. When the weather warms, so will the cold case, and about 100 to 200 tiny mantises will emerge.
They'll be so hungry they'll even eat one another.
Can't find an egg case? Not to worry. Early next year, your local hardware store or nursery will probably have them--in the refrigerated section.