Posts Tagged: praying mantis
At the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m., at the University of California, Davis, you'll see not one, but two, praying mantids.
And very much alive.
Doctoral candidate Fran Keller collected one, and the other is the one I collected last Saturday when it was preying on a monarch butterfly. (When I lifted the struggling monarch from the lantana, the praying mantis came attached.)
That was five days ago. For her dining pleasure, I have offered "my" praying mantis one cabbage white butterfly, one skipper butterfly, five live crickets, and six wiggly mealworms. We know she is a "she" because she's quite pregnant. But ahem. Someone in my household (no names specified here to protect the guilty) thinks the terrarium she occupies is a "torture chamber." When I popped in a cabbage white butterfly, Mrs. Praying Mantis and Mrs. Cabbage White Butterfly slept side-by-side all night, an inch apart, and then the next morning, Mrs. Praying Mantis ate her.
She left only the wings.
Hey, as butterfly expert Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, says: "A praying mantis has to eat, too."
Now Mrs. Praying Mantis is renting quarters, having bed and breakfast, at the Bohart Museum. I assume she is quite happy with her surroundings and is quite pleased with her menu, which I'm sure includes cabbage whites (pests).
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum, assures me that Mrs. P.M. (that could stand for Pest Management!) cannot fly even if she wanted to. "She's too heavy," she said.
There's a twig in her terrarium for Mrs. P.M. to lay her eggs--if she so desires. I'm not sure she desires.
But, back to the open house. Theme of the open house (free and open to the public), is "Live at the Bohart!" And that includes Mrs. Praying Mantis, aka Mrs. P.M. The venue: Room 1124 of thee Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, formerly California Drive. Although the Bohart houses nearly eight million insect specimens from around the world, it also has a "live" petting zoo that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, a rose-haired tarantula and an elusive jumping spider (that came in as a visitor on a bouquet of roses and subsequently became a permanent resident) and a “Harry Potter bug” (which is an amblypygid commonly known as a whip spider or tailless whip scorpion).
The real attractions this Saturday, however, will be cabbage white butterflies and Gulf Fritillary butterflies: museum officials will tell you how to rear them.
I imagine Mrs. Praying Mantis will concentrate quite heavily on the movements of the cabbage white butterflies and the Gulf Fritillaries.
Waiter! Will you hurry, please? I'm hungry.
Night time for the praying mantis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The praying mantis, quite camouflaged. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It happened so quickly.
The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) fluttered to the lantana for a sip of nectar when the unexpected happened.
A praying mantis, lying in wait, leaped high and grabbed it by its wings.
Unable to fly, the monarch struggled to right itself. The praying mantis kept its viselike grip.
At the time, I was focusing on the butterfly and didn't see the predator. When I saw the butterfly struggling, I walked over to it and lifted it out of the lantana, only to find a praying mantis attached to it.
The butterfly did not make it. The praying mantis, a female about to lay eggs, did. She will be shown at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. and then released.
Theme of the Bohart open house is "Live at the Bohart!" Live? That's because the open house will feature live insects, such as cabbage white and Gulf Fritillary butterflies, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, a rose-haired tarantula and a “Harry Potter bug,” which is an amblypygid commonly known as a whip spider or tailless whip scorpion.
The Bohart, located on the UC Davis campus in Room 1124 of Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, formerly California Drive, is home to nearly eight million insect specimens, collected throughout the world.
At the open house, museum officials will tell you how to rear a cabbage white butterfly and other butterflies, such as Gulf Fritllaries. You can talk insects with director Lynn Kimsey; senior museum scientist Steve Heydon; public education/outreach coordinator Tabatha Yang, and others. The gift shop will be open for the purchase of t-shirts, jewelry, posters, books, insect nets and other items.
As for the praying mantis, on Saturday she will be freed to catch more prey.
Let's hope it is a cabbage white instead of a monarch./span>
A praying mantis leaps at a fluttering butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
With its viselike grip, the praying mantis holds on to its prey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The praying mantis tightens its grip. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The monarch, mangled from its encounter with the praying mantis, didn't make it. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
So patient, so passionate.
The praying mantis looked hungry last Thursday when it perched on a coneflower in the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis.
Where's breakfast? Where's lunch? Where's dinner?
Nowhere to be found.
A few honey bees and sweat bees buzzed around the predator, but didn't land.
The praying mantis changed positions, much like a fisherman who feels "skunked" in one place will try his luck at another site.
It crawled up, down and around the flower.
Half an hour later, it slid beneath the coneflower, out of the hot sun. An umbrella for shade, a place to rest, a place to prey...
Praying mantis waits and waits. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Maybe hunting is better on the other side? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What's on the other side? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Keeping cool beneath the coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's sort of like watching the grass grow, or the paint dry, but there's much more drama.
These, as children's book author Eric Carle writes in the children's book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillars," are very hungry caterpillars.
They're famished. They're ravenous. They could eat a horse (except they don't eat horses). And that's a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.
If they're allowed to, these caterpillars will decimate the leaves, spin cocoons and eventually turn into spectacular reddish-orange butterflies (Agraulis vanillae).
So, you're sitting there watching the caterpillars eat. And out of the shadows, something else appears.
You think you're the only ones watching them eat? Think again.
A Gulf Fritillary caterpillar ready to eat the leaves of a passionflower vine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This Gulf Fritillary caterpillar is really chowing down. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A praying mantis watches a ravenous caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
One thing's for certain--a praying mantis does not like to get wet.
If it were human, it would not dip a toe in the water and yell to its friends: "C'mon in, the water's fine!"
Water is not fine--not to a praying mantis.
While watering the tomato plants recently, we discovered a praying mantis beneath the leaves. Looking quite defensive, it emerged from its hiding place, not to prey but to check out the spray.
Then it quietly slipped back beneath the leaves, its long khaki-colored body looking quite conspicuous against a solid green background.
P. Mantis took a few minutes to remove the water droplets and then clumsily flew away.
Enough of that water bath!
Praying mantis, accidentally splashed with a water, tries to remove the droplets. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Drenched praying mantis raises a foreleg. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)