Friday, June 20, 2008

Praying for Mantis

I was watering my plants on the deck yesterday, when I discovered a tiny little creature on the step. Recalling a previous encounter with a Praying Mantis Nymph a few years ago, I hoped it was another one. If it was, this one was much much smaller. I looked closer, but being so small, I couldn't tell. The head was smaller then my eyes could focus, because it was literally the size of a pinhead. I ran inside, put on my macro lens and focused in:


I measured my fingernail, and if I added an 1/8th inch, I am thinking this lil guy is a half inch long.


So...to make for a fun picture, I grabbed a leaf of a plant and picked him up.



It was difficult to shoot with one hand.





Trying to focus on his tiny lil head was a major ordeal.





I never knew if he was in focus or not, but I loved seeing his beady little eyes in different positions.





I felt like he was a friend I needed to take care of...






My macro lens focuses to 1 1/2 inches away, but I wish I had more, because he reminds me of E.T.






I would change up the angles and backgrounds and had so much fun with him...





and then I decided on a flower...and thats where it all went wrong...





I put him on a petal, and started shooting. The flower plant was in a large pot that was too heavy to pick up so I slid it around for better angles. I decided to pull the pot closer, hit a bump, and the flower shook back and forth causing my new lil friend to be catapulted into the heavens. I gasped as I did it, feeling horrible for his fate. I looked around the immediate area and couldn't find him.

For dramatical purposes, I must share a weakness:

I am NOT a bug person. I hate them actually. I have rules on how to get a bug off me if the problem arises. First: Always get the bug off immediately. Second: Tell me there WAS a bug on me and that you just saved my life. Always in that order! My point is...I liked my nymph. It's a first, believe me! He was my buddy for 15 minutes or so, and I miss him...I hope he flew to safety and is o.k....I am praying for Mantis...

Note: A nymph is what an immature mantis is called. A nymph is very similar to its parents except it's much smaller and has no wings.
The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids. Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong.

By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long "neck," or elongated thorax. Mantids can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them.

Typically green or brown and well camouflaged on the plants among which they live, 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 prey and pinning it in place.

Moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects are usually the unfortunate recipients of unwanted mantid attention. However, the insects will also eat others of their own kind. The most famous example of this is the notorious mating behavior of the adult female, who sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behavior seems not to deter males from reproduction.

Females regularly lay hundreds of eggs in a small case, and nymphs hatch looking much like tiny versions of their parents.

Source: National Geographic http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/praying-mantis.html

3 comments:

Shellmo said...

I loved all the close ups on his - and I'm not a bug fan - but these were great!

Sandpiper said...

These are wonderful pictures. Every one of them. They really demonstrate the remarkable structure of the little creature. I enjoyed your story. Maybe the little guy made a soft landing somewhere. :)

Bird Girl said...

That was hilarious! You sure did a super job with those pictures...in th e light of your 'bug phobia'! I'm sure your little mantis is fine...but I'll say a prayer for him, too! Great photography, girl!