Posts Tagged: praying mantis
The praying mantis isn't at all concerned about culinary choices.
It doesn't worry about who's coming to dinner, only that dinner will come.
This aggressive, predatory insect will eat just about anything it can get its claws on, entomologists agree. That includes bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, crickets, moths and flies. It's even been known to catch and feast on small frogs, birds, lizards, mice and snakes--not to mention its own species. During or after mating, the female often bites off her lover's head and eats him. Sexual cannabalism!
The praying mantis (insect order Mantodea) is difficult to spot. It's camouflaged brown, green or yellow to match its surroundings. You may see it on tree bark, foliage, fallen leaves, sticks 'n stones, blades of grass and flowers. A master of ambush, it perches stealthily, its front legs in a "praying position," as it patiently awaits the first course. Then whoosh! It lashes out and grasps its victim with its spiked forelegs. The ending is not pleasant.
Just be glad that the praying mantis is not human-sized.
Waiting for dinner
Robert Bugg saw it first.
That’s entomologist Robert L. Bugg.
Bugg, who received his doctorate in entomology at UC Davis, does research on the biological control of insect pests; cover crops; and restoration ecology.
And he saw it first.
“Look,” he said. “That praying mantis just bit the head off a pipevine swallowtail butterfly.”
We were part of a field tour, “Yolo County Field Tour of Native Bee Habitat on Working Lands.” Held Wednesday, Aug. 27 and organized by the Native Pollinators in Agriculture Project, the field tour drew representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California Department of Agriculture, California EPA, and farmers from throughout the country.
We visited seven sites: The Farm on Putah Creek, Butler Farm, Good Humus Farm, Cache Creek Conservancy, Muller Farms, Hedegrow Farms, and the Pioneer Hybrid Seed Farm.
I brought along my camera and a macro lens to capture photos of native pollinators, such as long-horned bees, sunflower bees, sweat bees and bumblebees.
We saw the green praying mantis, disguised as a flower stem or blade of grass, at The Farm on Putah Creek.
It had just snared a pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor).
It was survival of the fittest, and the matnis was more than fit. Now he was enjoying a morning meal at the expense of a fluttering butterfly.
The praying mantis (sometimes called a "preying matnis") is an ambush predator. It lies in wait for unsuspecting dinner to arrive.
Mr. Mantis grasped the butterfly in his spiked forelegs and chewed off the head.
It was a good day for a praying mantis, a bad day for a butterfly.
Praying mantis nails pipevine swallowtail butterfly