April 9, 2011

praying mantis, aliens and grasshoppers


Look who came visiting. I was running down the blogs in my Google Reader when this flew in my window.

insect says hi


mantis came calling....

I'm hopeless with animals and such. I thought this was a short-horned grasshopper until I checked out the
Bug Guide website. Look at Bug Guide's photo of the Mantid Tenodera. This has got to be a praying mantis. Here's a mantis photo from Wikipedia.

Mantis photo by Adamantios (from Wikipedia)

My mantis kept moving in circles in the strong sunlight. It calmed down only when it moved into the shade. Guess it's too hot here. I should have a shot a video but my phone battery was running low as I took these photos and my camera battery was dead.

Mantises are predatory insects that eat mostly other insects, although larger mantises also prey on small lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, fish, rodents and whatever else they can catch and eat. Ewwww. Most species of mantis are also cannibals, the females can bite off the males' heads literally. Watch out, guys! 

The mantis is often referred to as "praying mantis" (mantis religiosa) because of its bent front legs that make the insect look like it's in a prayer stance. It's sometimes misspelled as "preying mantis" as it's a predator.

green mantis. length: about 9 cm/3.5 inches

There, I put an AAA battery next to my mantis to show how long it is but it didn't stop circling but you can see it is about twice the AAA battery length, 9 cm / 3.5 inches (I put a ruler next to it in the shade later). I thought it might like my elk, but nope...

mantis and elk - NOT friends!

... didn't even give it a glance. Can't eat it, I guess. I love this insect's body (actually this may be the wings?), it looks just like a leaf, clever camouflage and very pretty! The head make me think of aliens. Here's a closer up look

green praying mantis

A mantis' head is said to be very flexible, some species can move their heads nearly 300 degrees and their compound eyes have binocular vision and can see up to 16 meters / 50 feet away, all the better to help it catch its prey.

There are over 2,200 species of mantis, which live in tropical and temperate climates. They are usually green, brown or even pink, are very well camouflaged and blend into the foliage or their environment. I live in a 30-storey building next to a huge park with lots of greenery so maybe this one flew over from there.

My mantis has been sitting quietly in the shade for the past hour. I'm going to have to help it outside later. An interesting aside I found during my internet researching - there's an urban legend that it's illegal to kill mantis in the US. Not true. See Pray or Pay (snopes.com).

Since I did some research on grasshoppers as well, here's some interesting facts about them:
* there are over 10,000 species of grasshoppers.
* grasshoppers have 5 eyes!
* grasshoppers can jump a distance about 20 times their length. wow.

As for the differences between the mantis and grasshopper, take a look at this.

Have a fun weekend!

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Related links
Mantis facts (theprayingmatis.org)
Praying Mantis (National Geographic)
Mantis photos (Google)
Praying Mantids (University of Kentucky Entomology)
Mantis videos (YouTube) see cannibals and predators at work
How to tame a praying mantis (eHow) if you ever want to keep a mantis as a pet?

Grasshopper links (since I was researching them too!)
Grasshopper (HowStuffWorks)
Grasshopper photos (Google)
Grasshopper species list (Konza Prairie)
Grasshopper anatomy (Animal Corner)
How do grasshoppers propel (eHow)
MSU researcher finds new grasshopper species (Mississippi State University)

by liberal sprinkles


Marianne, aka Ranger Anna said...

I once had a preying mantis and a toad in a terrarium where I taught school. A little girl in the back of the room started screaming, "It's eating it!!!" I started my speech about how toads needed to eat too, but the mantis was sucking the eyeballs out of the toad. Even I was grossed out.....

liberal sprinkles said...

that is truly gross! I didn't dare watch those YouTube videos in the links, the descriptions were graphic enough for me!

Kristen said...

i'm such a girl... if i saw a praying mantis i would freak out and run. lol! i hate bugs! those are great pictures though! i'm sure he's a nice fellow... even if they eat toad eyeballs? gross! hahaha

liberal sprinkles said...

LOL Kristen. I wanted to scream but it was so pretty I just had to shoot some photos. It was pretty tame, guess I'm too huge to gobble up. hahah

Ellie said...

Hehe. He looks cute, in an insect type way!

liberal sprinkles said...

Ellie, have to say if I were much smaller I'd have fallen for the act. He looks deceptively non-threatening for a predator!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

G., you are so cool. You get interested by something, research it and then tell us all about it! I loved this article and learned a lot. I think that your little friend is beautiful ... but, where did you find that tiny little tiny elk?

I liked your grasshopper info too ... I don't really like them, but am kind of fascinated by them since re-reading On The Banks of Plumb Creek.

Have a great week!

Kathy M.

liberal sprinkles said...

the mantis was so pretty and it kind of took over my life for a while twirling and then sitting in that corner so I had to do something about it and you know me, I can't resist putting some facts in my posts!

I can't remember where my elk came from. I used to buy trinkets when I traveled and I've traveled quite a bit. I think this may have come from Norway and I got some trolls with it but I don't know where those trolls are now, may have been unloaded when I moved a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

The mantis seems surprised... Maybe its not much of a publicity seeker !! :D

~✿~Icy BC said...

How wonderful that this fellow came to visit you! It's too early for us here to have any.

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