Creepy Crawlies: Praying and Preying

I like finding a praying mantis in my garden – such composure, elegance, even cuteness. Just look at that dainty, triangular face and those huge composite eyes.

shimmering in morning light

This one climbed up a solar panel (can you see one of its legs partially missing?):

wing lifted

However, on closer inspection, they look very scary – sort of like the inspiration for a horror movie about irradiated insects that grow larger than humans.
Look at those massive mandibles!
I apologize for the quality of these close-ups – they were taken with my old camera. But it gives you an idea…

mantis rearing up

Mantises (in the Mantodea order of insects that contains over 2,400 species) live in temperate and tropical habitats; their closest relatives are cockroaches and termites. They can live up to one year.
Females have been observed eating their mate after copulation, a habit also known as sexual cannibalism.
After mating, the female lays her eggs in a frothy mass produced by abdominal glands. The froth then hardens around the eggs into a protective capsule. The capsule and the egg mass is called an ootheca. I have found oothecas wrapped around the woody stems of raspberry canes and forsythia bushes.

mantis close-up

Praying Mantises typically prey on other insects often holding still for long periods of time until dinner arrives. They snatch their prey with their long forelegs, hold it in a deadly embrace and begin eating its head first. The forelegs are equipped with spiny protrusions that make it easy to trap prey and prevent it from escaping.

I think I prefer to look at them from a respectable distance:

Mantis against blue sky

More info about praying mantises on Wikipedia.

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is “Creepy.”

Ed’s Sunday Stills Theme: “Going Buggy.”

About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
This entry was posted in Animals and Critters, Sunday Stills, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Creepy Crawlies: Praying and Preying

  1. jamborobyn says:

    Awesome pictures. Awesome creatures. I’m probably going to use your photo to do a pencil drawing – I looked for an image a few years ago and couldn’t find anything satisfactory to work from. These images are simply fantastic. Nah, I don’t find them creepy – they’re cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. makingcamp says:

    Creepy shilloute


  3. I always thought preying mantises were very cool, until now!! I didn’t know they were related to cockroaches and termites (yikes!) and that they practice sexual cannibalism!! Thanks for teaching me a few things about these scary and creepy insects. 🙂


  4. Lula Harp says:

    I agree, these lovelies are both beautiful and creepy. Great images – you have captured both!


  5. They are a very interesting creature and I love to find them around my home. Haven’t seen one this year but one year we saw all kinds, some very large ones, too. Really great photos!


    • I was trying to remember whether I’ve seen any mantises this year and could not recall that I did. Maybe last winter was too cold for those egg cases? I’m always excited to see them because they are so much fun to watch and since they eat a lot of pesky insects, I appreciate them being around.


  6. Great pics. I think mantises are the most exquisite of the insects — those, and dragonflies. I once saw a praying mantis close up — I should open my eyes a lot more often. Very very cool.


  7. Great post and pictures. Thanks for all the additional information. I haven’t seen any this year, but am always happy when they show up, providing some free and non-toxic pest control.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it strange that 3 of us reading this post have noticed the absence of mantises this year. I’ll have to ask around some more and hear from others. That would be pretty strange…it’s bad enough the bees are dying; I hope the mantises aren’t similarly affected.


  8. klara b says:

    great shots. and very informative text. I love both.


  9. Wow! How did you get the close-up of the mantis on your solar panel? Is your solar panel on your roof? That alone is amazing. lol


    • Debbie – this particular solar panel is actually on the ground, so easily accessible… mantises are very obedient photo models as they hold still for you and move s-l-o-w-l-y until they go after prey. Wished the hummingbirds would act similarly.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Amazing captures, Annette. I haven’t seen a mantis for quite a while. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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