Posts Tagged: spiked forelegs
He's a survivor.
His sisters and brothers didn't eat him when he emerged from the egg case. In fact, he probably ate some of his brothers and sisters.
He has managed to elude his predators: bats, birds and spiders.
Yes, our praying mantis is very much alive and quite well, thank you.
It's early morning and the praying mantis is a lean green machine as he climbs a green cactus from his base camp, a flower bed of pink lantana. He's not engaging in mountaineering for the sport of it or for the summit view. He's climbing the cactus to better position himself to find prey: to ambush an unsuspecting butterfly or bee.
He's not concealed but he's perfectly camouflaged. And he's cunning.
He stops, swivels his head 180 degrees--praying mantids can do that, you know--and proceeds to climb to the top of his Mount Everest.
It's a sight you don't see very often. First, because praying mantids usually blend into their environment. Second, how many times have you seen a green praying mantis climb a green cactus? And third, this cactus climber has something in common with the plant: the needlelike "ouch" factor. The cactus is spiny. The praying mantis has spiked forelegs to grasp its prey.
The mantis reaches the summit. He folds his forelegs as if in "prayer." Well, not quite. He looks as if he's begging for his breakfast.
It promises to be a good day, a top-of-the-morning day.
Praying mantis, perfectly camouflaged, stops in the midpoint of his climb. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Praying mantis reaches the summit. In the background is a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Praying mantis folds his spiked forelegs, as if in prayer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What a perfect camouflage!
Have you ever seen a green praying mantis hiding among the green growth in your garden?
Concealed. Disguised. Camouflaged.
The praying mantis is a patient insect. It will lurk for hours in its familiar prayer-like position, ready to ambush passing prey, usually an unsuspecting insect like a honey bee, bumble bee, sweat bee or grasshopper. Then with a movement faster than you can say "What the..." it will strike, grabbing its prey with its spiked forelegs. The target, unable to escape the deadly grip, becomes its meal. No catch and release here!
There's a reason why many folks have never seen a praying mantis. It's like trying to find Waldo, especially when the mantis is camouflaged in the vegetation and lying motionless.
Wikipedia tell us that the mantids, in the order Mantodea, comprise more than 2400 species and about 430 genera in 15 families worldwide. Some 20 species occur in North America, according to entomologist Gilbert Waldbauer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Author of The Handy Bug Answer Book, Waldbauer writes that the introduced Chinese mantis is the largest "at a length of asmuch as four inches."
Camouflaged praying mantis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Exposed! Praying mantis peering around green stems. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)