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Take me to your leader

April 22, 2015

DSCN6735Summer has ended and with it goes leaving the curtains open until late at night. On summer nights the insects amass on the outside of the window trying to get in through the glass – mainly moths and beetles – but also the occasional praying mantid comes over for a feed. At a high level, praying mantises are grouped with unlikely bedfellows such as cockroaches and termites. The mantids belong to the order Mantodea (logically enough!), which derives its name from the Ancient Greek word mantis, meaning prophet, and eidos meaning form, referring to the way these insects hold their front legs as if they were praying. They are ambush unknownB IMG_1444predators that wait for prey to get close and then they grasp it with their spiked front legs. If you look closely at their eyes it seems as if they have a dark pupil. However like most insects, mantids have multifaceted compound eyes and the ‘pupil’ is an illusion created by the eye structure. The praying mantids on my window in summer are the green Garden Praying Mantis (Orthodera ministralis), pictured above. Recently I have come across some mantids of different sizes and colours. At about 10 cm long this Purple-winged Mantis (Tenodera australasiae) at right was a minor obstacle on the bike path.

Another mantid, pictured at left, was hidden DSCN3196on a tree and seemed from a distance to be part of a branch. I don’t know about you but a praying mantid’s head reminds me of pictures people draw of aliens. Na noo, na noo.

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