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Posts tagged “Mantodea

Praying Mantis Well Equipped For Predation

A praying mantis is a formidable predator to all sort of insects and even an occasional hummingbird. Its forelegs are lightning fast – it takes a mantis only 50-70 milliseconds to strike out with its foremost pair of legs and grasp its prey.  Look closely and you’ll see rows of spines on these legs that help a mantis grasp its prey while it eats it.  However, even these adaptations don’t always guarantee a meal.  Seconds after being caught the wasp (in the inset photo) quickly slipped the mantis’s grip and flew to safety.

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Praying Mantis Egg Case

12-9-13 praying mantis egg case 057In the fall, after mating, the female praying mantis lays up to 400 eggs in a frothy liquid produced by glands in her abdomen. This one to two-inch long mass is attached to vegetation, often grasses and goldenrod stalks, about a foot or two off the ground. The frothy structure hardens, providing a protective case for the eggs. In the spring, miniature (wingless) mantises, called nymphs, will hatch from this egg case. When hatching, the nymphs appear all at once, crawling from between tiny flaps in the case and then hanging from silk threads about two inches below the case. Within an hour or two, after drying out, they disappear into nearby vegetation.

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Praying Mantis

Between being able to swivel its head nearly 180 degrees, and having two large compound eyes and three simple eyes, the Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) misses very few insects within reach.  Due to its green or brown coloration, the Praying Mantis is well camouflaged as it lies in ambush or stalks its prey.  Spines, tooth-like tubercles and a claw near the tip of each foreleg enable this predator to have a secure grasp on the moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects it consumes.  (A Praying Mantis in Pennsylvania was photographed successfully capturing a Ruby-throated Hummingbird!)  The pictured female is heavy with hundreds of eggs she will soon lay in a foam case she whips up.