Posts Tagged: praying mantis
There are many reasons why honey bees don't come home at night.
One of them: a stealthy praying mantis.
If you like to photograph flowers, odds are that some day you'll see more than one insect on a blossom.
Look closely and you may see a praying mantis peering over the petals, watching a bee's every move.
It's not like a proud parent watching an offspring perform at a dance recital or lead a marching band or pitch in a Little League game. The look is fiercely intense, but for a different reason.
Such was the case yesterday at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis.
A honey bee nectaring on a zinnia turned to poke its proboscis deeper into the blossom, unaware of a hidden predator silently emerging from its stakeout.
Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Late night snack?
Not this time. The honey bee sighted the mantid and quickly buzzed off.
Honey bee nectars a zinnia, unaware of a predator eyeing her every move. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Coming up empty, the praying mantis stares at where the bee had been. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When I last met up with a pipevine swallowtail, it wasn't faring well.
In fact, I didn't recognize it as a pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor), no thanks to it being in the clutches of a hungry praying mantis.
Mantids have to eat, too, but I'd prefer they express an culinary interest in pests such as spotted cucumber beetles instead of beneficial insects.
On his website, butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, calls the pipevine swallowtail "the signature riparian butterfly of our region, occurring along streams in foothill canyons and on the Central Valley floor, essentially everywhere where its only host plant, California pipevine or Dutchman's pipe, Aristolochia californica, occurs."
If you head out to the Storer Garden in the UC Davis Arboretum, you might see a pipevine swallowtail catching the breeze, stopping here and there to nectar a plant.
Maybe this time a praying mantis will catch something else.
Pipevine swallowtail visiting the Storer Garden, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Praying mantis devouring a pipevine swallowtail. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When you visit the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden planted next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, don't expect to see just pollinators.
There are predators there, too.
Plant a garden and the pollinators and predators will come.
We spotted this immature praying mantis perched on top of a spiked Cleveland sage blossom, aka blue sage (Salvia clevelandii), waiting for a take-out dinner.
This little camouflaged insect looked like part of the plant.
Which is the plan!
No insects were harmed in the making of this photograph. We can't vouch for what happened after we left, though.
If you want to visit the bee garden, it's open from dawn to dusk. Admission? Free.
Praying mantis on Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
But have you ever seen them frying flies over a kitchen stove?
You will when you take a look at an Oklahoma photographer's work.
An interesting article in The Daily Mail Online from the UK plainly shows what Scott Cromwell did with praying mantids. He created scenes of the insects doing such things as not only frying flies on a stove, but taking the baby (mantis) for a stroll, soaking in a bathtub (a claw bathtub at that!) and reading the Daily Mantis news while answering nature's call.
Cromwell, a 40-year-old television repairman, said he buys assorted species of praying mantids online and he purchases many of the miniature props (miniature dollhouse props) on eBay.
The article, showcasing several of his photographs, has drawn widespread reactions, from "amazing creatures" (mantids) to "horrid man" (Cromwell).
A true shutterbug? Or shudder bug? Or someone expressing creativity and innovation?
Most of us who photograph insects never pass on an opportunity to capture images of a praying mantis in its natural habitat. They are amazing. They pounce quickly. They show no fear. They stare at you as if you're their next meal.
Still, I'd rather see a praying mantis in nature's dew than in a bubble bath.
Camouflaged praying mantis having lunch. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
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: email@example.com.
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)