What's for Dinner?

Oct 6, 2008

The praying mantis isn't at all concerned about culinary choices.

It doesn't worry about who's coming to dinner, only that dinner will come.

This aggressive, predatory insect will eat just about anything it can get its claws on, entomologists agree. That includes bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, crickets, moths and  flies. It's even been known to catch and feast on small frogs, birds, lizards, mice and snakes--not to mention its own species.   During or after mating, the female often bites off her lover's head and eats him. Sexual cannabalism!

The praying mantis (insect order Mantodea) is difficult to spot. It's camouflaged brown, green or yellow to match its surroundings. You may see it on tree bark, foliage, fallen leaves, sticks 'n stones, blades of grass and flowers. A master of ambush, it perches stealthily, its front legs in a "praying position," as it patiently awaits the first course. Then whoosh! It lashes out and grasps its victim with its spiked forelegs. The ending is not pleasant.

Just be glad that the praying mantis is not human-sized.

 


By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

Attached Images:

The praying mantis, camouflaged, lies in wait. Hmmm, is that camera edible?(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Camouflaged

A praying mantis awaits prey. Note its forelegs with strong spikes for grabbing and grasping prey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Waiting for dinner