Images of small things from the biggest county in Texas #525 – Been praying for a praying mantis & look what showed up!

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I have been searching high and low for one of these rascals literally for the past couple of weeks they have been on my radar. Today, while walking to the mailbox, I darn near walked right past this guy sitting on the top of my front gate.

I geared up an seized the moment. While processing the images I did have to ask what was God thinking when he made this creature. The answer came back as you asked for one and you got it. Don’t push it.

Probably more info then you want to know, but this creature just fascinates me. Oh geez, I am becoming a bug nerd.

The English common name for any species in the order is “praying mantis“, because of the typical “prayer-like” posture with folded fore-limbs, although the eggcorn “preying mantis” is sometimes used in reference to their predatory habits. In Europe and other regions, the name “praying mantis” refers to only a single species, Mantis religiosa. The closest relatives of mantises are the termites and cockroaches (order Blattodea). They are sometimes confused with phasmids (stick/leaf insects) and other elongated insects such asgrasshoppers and crickets.

Mantises have two grasping, spiked forelegs (“raptorial legs”) in which prey items are caught and held securely. In most insect legs, including the posterior four legs of a mantis, the coxa and trochanter combine as an inconspicuous base of the leg; in the raptorial legs however, the coxa and trochanter combine to form a segment about as long as the femur, which is a spiky part of the grasping apparatus (see illustration). Located at the base of the femur are a set of discoidal spines, usually four in number, but ranging from zero to as many as five depending on the species. These spines are preceded by a number of tooth-like tubercles, which, along with a similar series of tubercles along the tibia and the apical claw near its tip, give the foreleg of the mantis its grasp on its prey. The foreleg ends in a delicate tarsus made of between four and five segments and ending in a two-toed claw with no arolium and used as a walking appendage.

The mantis thorax consists of a prothorax, a mesothorax, and a metathorax. In all species apart from the genus Mantoida, the prothorax, which bears the head and forelegs, is much longer than the other two thoracic segments. The prothorax is also flexibly articulated, allowing for a wide range of movement of the head and forelimbs while the remainder of the body remains more or less immobile. The articulation of the neck is also remarkably flexible; some species of mantis can rotate the head nearly 180 degrees.

Mantids may have a visual range of up to 20 metres. Their compound eyes may comprise up to 10,000 ommatidia. The eyes are widely spaced and laterally situated, affording a wide binocular field of vision) and, at close range, precise stereoscopic vision. The dark spot on each eye is a pseudopupil. As their hunting relies heavily on vision, mantids are primarily diurnal. Many species will however fly at night, and then may be attracted to artificial lights. Nocturnal flight is especially important to males in search of less-mobile females that they locate by detecting their pheromones. Flying at night exposes mantids to fewer bird predators than diurnal flight would. Many mantises also have an auditory thoracic organ that helps them to avoid bats by detecting their echolocation and responding evasively.

enjoy ††† en theos ††† jim work

6 thoughts on “Images of small things from the biggest county in Texas #525 – Been praying for a praying mantis & look what showed up!

  1. Great pic! 😉

    Haven’t seen any yet, in our area… with all the pesticides around, they are getting to be more rare. Plus it was a very late/cold spring and summer… and they don’t like the cold.
    I pick them up and play with them when i find them; most tame down fast and even come back to your hand because of the joy they get by playing on your sequencing hands and wiggly fingers! Most will bite you for a while at first, but then they quickly adjust and even get to like you. Only one, so far — a bronco — refused to tame down. It continued to bite the living daylights out of me. (One of my earlier blogs is pertains to the mantids.)

    I had a large female for a pet years ago, in a 30 gallon aquarium. I would feed her thawed frozen brine shrimp (i.e., tropical fish food)… which she relished and ate off my fingers. She outlived all the wild ones by months (after they died from the cold). She laid a few large egg sacs (which i later put outdoors). Female mantids can lay viable eggs in the absence of a male… but they are exact clones of the mother.

    They sure are alien-like in appearance and behavior! Truly magnificent creatures! 😉

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