Monday, 09 August 2004
Prithee Pray For Me Brown Mantid
CREDIT: © Ian Scott-Parker/CAMwrangler.com
WHERE: southwest Utah, USA. WHAT: insect of the genus Stagmomantis.
Thumbnail pops-up larger image.
In addition to the Black Widow spider and Paper wasps that have visited, we also see the occasional mantid (or mantis). This one was bigger than we have seen before, about three inches in length, probably because at this time of year they are full grown. We checked DesertUSA.com for a general guide. The mantid's color may not be a good species guide because they vary somewhat even within the same scientific classification, so we do not venture a guess
There are about two thousand species of mantids worldwide, not a creature we ever saw wild in the Sceptered Isles because they prefer warmer climes, but we recommend the MantisUK.com web site in Britain for identification of some of the major species. We read one caution that only the European Mantis religiosa should be referred to as a praying mantid, though they all seem to do so and are widely known as such making it unreliable as a narrow definition.
They are known to be cannibalistic, and the female biting off the mate's head during reproduction is often mentioned anecdotally. This seems to happen less when the couple is undisturbed, and is thought to be a survival tactic by the female to speed up the reproductive act. They are also the only insect capable of head turning effected by articulated joints. Recent evidence has identified the mantid's ability to sense the ultra sonic signals from bats, which are its main predator. For some really close up pictures of a mantid, we visited the All-Creatures.org web site, an organization with a definite stance on the human-animal relationship.
One web site suggested that eye contact may be made with mantids. The trick is to approach very slowly, going as close as possible without scaring the creature. It was claimed that the mantid would then slowly turn its head, making eye contact. The effect was said to be spooky. We have been unable to make it happen: this mantid must be on shifty business, because it refuses to look us straight in the eye!
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)