Menagerie Monday: My, My, More Mantises!

Back on April 3, I was adjusting the ropes on a swing that I’ve made for the grandkids in our front garden and needed to set up the ladder to do so. Its resting place is leaning against the house, and when I had it in place and climbed toward the top, I saw a small brown mantis nymph on the next-to-top step. I offered it a ride in my hand, which it accepted readily enough, and I transferred it to the likely-more-fruitful hunting ground of our jade plant (Crassula ovata). I fetched the camera and the tripod and, as I was happily starting my session, one tripod leg brushed a lower branch, and another mantis—a green nymph easily twice the size of the first—dropped to the deck. I helped it back into the upper branches and spent the next half hour dividing my attention between the two of them. Both were the members of the African immigrant variety (Miomantis caffra), which competes (very successfully) with the native one, but not yet to the extent that the latter is officially considered endangered. I will say, however, that I find mantises fairly regularly, but it has been quite some time since I’ve seen a native. Frankly, I am concerned but, until the guidelines change, I’ll remain content to observe and report. (Click a pic to enlarge.)

About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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20 Responses to Menagerie Monday: My, My, More Mantises!

  1. These are beautiful insects, Gary. Zooming in shows the lovely detail you have wonderfully captured. They look like very interesting subjects to photograph.

  2. Mike Powell says:

    I love the results of your portrait session, Gary. Both of your subjects appeared to be cooperative and the backdrop of the jade plant was lovely.

    • krikitarts says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to work with two like that before. I was glad that they were in different parts of the plant, or they might have taken a rather unfortunate interest in one another. I once saw a large one that had caught a smaller one (probably after mating) many years ago, and I don’t care to watch what followed ever again.

  3. shoreacres says:

    I’m sure you know that damselflies and dragonflies will dine on one another, too. I watched a damselfly eat another one on a boat once. What surprised me is that it ate everything but the wings and the eyes. The wings blew away, but I managed to get the eyes and bring them home. I didn’t yet have a macro lens, but I did manage a photo. They’re certainly not as pretty as your photos!

    • krikitarts says:

      Yes, dragons and even the dainty little damsels, are voracious predators, in pretty much all stages of their development. I’ve been a fan of them for a very long time and am always happy when I can get close enough to one to make a good photo.

  4. Vicki says:

    Brilliant shots and excellent detail captured. When I saw a green mantis early on in my photography hobby I had the DOF too shallow and didn’t get any really good full body shots like you. I’ve got a good insect (mantis???) shot lined up for today’s daily photo from my archives though. It’s golden in colour, but with the bright flower and background I suspect I photographed it in the golden hour.

    I had some photos of some giant mantis-like creature from Melbourne Zoo but can’t find it any more so it must have got lost in the Easter 2019 computer crash (and disastrous photo library transfer).
    They were easily larger than my hand.

    • krikitarts says:

      I’m waiting for your new post, but I suspect that, if they were that large, they might well have been some of your giant stick insects. The Auckland zoo has several, and they are unforgettable.

  5. Peter Klopp says:

    Great macro capture, my friend! It seems like he or she is looking at you with an expression of deep gratitude for your act of kindness.

    • krikitarts says:

      I’d really like to think so. I can say, though, that I sensed no reluctance on the mantis’s part to hitch a ride in my hands back to the perch from which it fell or jumped, and once there, it simply relaxed and seemed to take renewed stock of its new vantage point. I’d say all was well.

  6. You may recall my pessimistic rule-of-thumb about wildflowers in New Zealand: if you see it, it’s not native. That rule proved overwhelmingly true during my two visits, the main exceptions being in nature reserves.

    • krikitarts says:

      You really made me laugh out loud at that. There are still flowering natives about, their frequency depending greatly on what ecosystem you’re in, but it’s certainly fair to say that usually the majority have been introduced in one way or another. Every time I see a mantis here, I look carefully for the unmistakable blue patch on their elbows and their abdomens are flatter and broader (Google mantis nz) and, as I said above, it’s been a long time since I’ve found one. Their egg cases are (fortunately) also very different, and when I find one of the African ones, I usually casually dispose of it to make it possible for the indigenous ones to have more breathing (and, above all, breeding) space.

  7. Little giants… Straight out of Sci-fi imagination 😊

  8. Oh, your images are quite startling in the detail they show. Wonderful?

    • krikitarts says:

      I’m happy to hear that you like them, Sylvia. Do you see many mantises in your garden in Florida? My parents used to live in the Clearwater / Indian Rocks area and all I can remember seeing with any regularity, apart from a few butterflies, were the wonderful little anoles.

  9. bluebrightly says:

    Fantastic images, and they’re such engaging subjects. But it’s too bad about the imports.

    • krikitarts says:

      I think so too. I haven’t gone so far as to take out an adult, but I feel pretty comfortable with removing the immigrants’ egg cases when I find them. They’re noticeably whitish, whereas the natives’ are a much darker gray-brown. Thanks for your support!

  10. I have to say that your fifth portrait paints a picture of a very demure lady. I am always torn about presenting non-natives whether insects of plants. But they are here and some are quite fetching like your mantids. To this day I have still not come across one here.

    • krikitarts says:

      I just found another one on our kitchen ceiling and let her go outside without inviting her to a photo session. Am I slipping? I hope not, it just seemed that I’ve bothered them enough for the time being. Besides, there are gale-force gusts outside and it would be more than a challenge today. Rest assured that, if I find a native, I’ll do my best with it!

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