Praying Mantis On my walkabouts, I keep an eye out for Praying Mantis, but the only place I seem to be able find them is on the road or sidewalk.
Praying Mantis This mantis was posing for me. It seemed to want its portrait taken, again!
Praying Mantis Tonight’s walkabout turned out to be rather unusual. A Praying Mantis was crossing a road about the time I walked by.
The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs. By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long “neck.” And, they can turn their heads 180 degrees,unique among insects, to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them. Oddly, they have only one ear located on the underside of its belly, just forward of its hind legs.
Typically green or brown and well camouflaged amongst the plants where they live, the mantis lie in ambush or patiently stalk their quarry. They use their front legs to snare their prey with reflexes so quick that they are difficult to see with the naked eye. Their legs are further equipped with spikes for snaring and pinning their prey in place. Moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects are their usual prey.
The praying mantis lives from the spring into the fall. It hatches from an egg sack with the coming of warm weather, looking like a tiny adult without wings. It molts, or gives up its old and outgrown skin for a new and larger one, six or seven times as it grows to adulthood. Once mature, it seeks a mate. In some species, the male and female engage in a ritualistic courtship dance, stroking each other fondly with their antennae before they finally mate. The male may make the ultimate sacrifice, serving as a meal for his mate, or he may make his escape, flying away to safety. Come fall, the female crafts her egg sack, an sculptural jewel perhaps half the size of your little finger. Like a master craftsman, she places her eggs by the dozens in a carefully braided pattern. She covers the sack with a froth that dries and hardens like plaster. She leaves the sack attached to the twig or a trunk of a tree to await the spring hatch. After this climactic act of her life, she will die within a couple of weeks. The preying mantis in the image is likely living in the last few weeks of her life.
Sometimes, the best camera is the one in your hands. This Praying Mantis was just walking beside the sidewalk on my walkabout.