Posts Tagged: praying mantis
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
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