Saturday, September 26, 2015

Night Of The Mantis!

Today's title is a partial mash-up of various late-night horror movie titles, The Deadly Mantis, Day of the Triffids, you get the idea. Since discovering the colony of geckos living under our porch light, I usually take a look before opening the door at night, and the other evening found a couple praying mantis! Haven't seen any in years, the last time being on Kitt Peak, where they were devouring telescopes! Anyway, I figured I'd try to take a few snapshots, all these being taken with the Canon XSi and 100mm F/2.8 macro. Of course, being that it was after 10pm and pitch dark, without enough illumination from our porch light, the on-camera flash was used too. At left is a nearly-full-body shot as he climbed towards the light, and at left is the over-the-shoulder glamour shot. The fellows were good-sized, about 7 or 8 cm long, and while they occasionally took flight when tired of my flash, but they would re-land and pose more for me afterwards. The Wikipedia entry indicates this is the time of year for mating, and they are attracted to the insects attracted to outdoor lights, but I think both of these were female, or at least, if they were a pair, I only ended up with pics of the female!

I'm a fan of a well-turned leg as they say, and these didn't disappoint with their armored accessories! Their forelegs are used to grasp mostly insect prey, and with their jagged teeth, you can see the combination of nutcracker leverage and teeth would nigh be impossible to escape!

I'm closing with a couple head shots. Their highly articulate necks result in their most always looking at you with their face or compound eyes tracking you. In the image at left, besides their large compound eyes, separated for good stereo vision, you can also spot their three eye spots, or ocelli between them. Yes, they have two different kinds of vision! It is thought the ocelli provide orientation clues during flight, since they seem to be incapable of resolving forms. The left photo shows them mounted on the forehead - with the head tilted further back, as at right, they "cats-eye" reflect the light from the flash to appear bright. Also in the right image, the mandibles that act like fingers to hold and manipulate food are visible. Neat stuff - wish they were around more often as there is more to explore!

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