where am I
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Camouflage is the key for an ambush specialist|
All mantids are extremely well camouflaged in colours which blend into their natural habitats. Most species are plain green or brown, but some are ornately coloured in shades of pink and yellow. The typical means of capturing prey is for the mantis to sit patiently in wait until a suitable insect or spider comes within range. Very often, a mantis will station itself close to (or even inside) a flower which attracts pollinators. In many ways, the mantis is an invertebrate equivalent of the chameleon (to which it may itself become prey, if it is not careful!) as it moves forward in a slow swaying motion, before striking out. Prey is secured in a lightning-fast strike, as the mantis lunges forward and seizes its victim with the extended forelegs. The mantis then immobilises the prey with a swift bite to the head. Flies, butterflies, crickets, grasshoppers and bugs are among the typical prey for larger mantids, while smaller species rely on creatures such as aphids, fig-wasps and mosquitoes.
Perhaps the best-known trait of mantids is the female's notorious habit of biting off the head of her mate after, or during, copulation. This extraordinary cannibalistic behaviour has been regularly documented in captive pairs, but it may be stress related and it is thought to be much less common under natural conditions. If the male is indeed killed and consumed by the female which now carries eggs with his genes, he can at least be consoled in the thought that he is providing protein for their healthy development! After mating, the female deposits her eggs within a spongy white case (ootheca) which is typically glued to a grass stalk, the underside of a leaf, or on the bark of a tree. In a remarkable instance of parental care (most unusual among insects and other ‘lower' life forms), the female may remain in the vicinity of her clutch to fend off attacks by parasitic wasps which lay their own eggs into those of the mantis. Depending upon the season, the eggs may hatch within three weeks, or they may lie dormant through the dry season and emerge up to six months later.
Bold in Defence
Mantids are preyed upon by a variety of birds, lizards and other creatures, and this is another reason for their remarkable camouflage. If found and cornered by a predator, a mantis will typically rear up on its hind legs and wave its heavily armed front limbs at the attacker. Some species also have brightly coloured wings which are unfolded in an attempt at intimidation. I have seen shrikes, chameleons and even a domestic cat being kept at bay by such an aggressive defence.
Mythology and Folklore
Due to their bold and conspicuous behaviour - which entails rearing up with folded ‘arms' - mantids have attracted much human interest. This has led to their place in mythology and folklore throughout the world. The Khoisan, southern Africa's earliest inhabitants, embraced legends and myths which referred to a ‘trickster' god, who could transform himself into animal or human, and would die and be reborn many times. The predatory mantis therefore figures prominently in San folk tales in a role similar to the ‘clever fox' of European fables. Even today, Khoisan herd boys are still said to use mantises to ‘divine' the whereabouts of lost sheep or goats, and in Afrikaans, the mantis is referred to as "the Hottentot's God". These charismatic little creatures have enjoyed similar attention elsewhere in the world, with Arabic and Turkish cultures once regarding the mantis as a pointer to Mecca.
By chance or adaptation?
Like many insects, mantises can often be seen around the artificial lights of buildings after dark. Although not designed for nocturnal activity (their highly evolved camouflage is an adaptation to hunting and a disguise during daylight) mantises can often be seen preying on the dazed moths and other insects attracted to lights. Whether this behaviour is by chance or adaptation is an intriguing question.
By Duncan Butchart
Thank you very much for looking.
siggi, Heaven, matatur, bahadir, boreocypriensis, LordPotty, nglen, CeltickRanger, jaycee, Juyona, Noisette, anel has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
|You must be logged in to start a discussion.|
- [2009-03-01 5:18]
This is a very nice shot , with amazing detail!I love the overall presentation!
Thanks for sharing!
Best regards Siggi
- [2009-03-01 6:43]
The title suits the subject of your picture very well. The picture demonstrates the technique and the ability for camouflage at best. Moreover, it's very pleasant to look at it and it also has a humerous aspect.
A good portrait and a perfect example of ambush camouflage HP, interesting mythology my friend, wouldn't know about the Arabs, but old Turkish peoples usually had nomadic lives, living with close connections to their immediate environments and nature. They would know the living/hunting habits of mantids and would not be fooled by their haphazard orientations...
Hello Haraprasan, wonderful close up thias camouflaged mantis.
TFS and regards,
Hi MF, a fine capture of a mantis between the flowers.
Nicely composed macro...
TFS and have a nice night!
A good shot of this Mantis laying in wait for prey. Nice colour and detail.
Its not too difficult to see amongst those white flowers.
I like the note you've added today too.
Thanks for sharing.
- [2009-03-01 12:20]
Hi Haraprasan . I had to look twice to see it. You have taken this with a great POV with its large eyes looking out of the flowers. Good detail and bright colours. well done TFS.
Ciao Haraprasan, superb portrait of well caouflaged mantys, elegant composition with wonderful white flowers, very well done, ciao Silvio
WOW ! what a superb photography of this camouflaged insect
with his environement, shot with fine POV, i love the vertical
framing you gived to the photo, superb eye-contact with you,
i have decided to add your great photo on a camouflaged theme, TFS
- [2009-03-01 15:41]
I have always loved your Mantis shots - they are the greatest! This one is no exception as he peeks out from his hiding place in the pretty flowers. You ruined his camouflage because your fine details make him easy to see even though he blends in with the flowers. Great shot.
- [2009-03-02 0:15]
buen pov y encuadre,
Great capture, good camouflage,
I like the composition on this shot and the eye contact
crisp clear details on mantis and flowers
- [2009-03-02 16:19]
Ah, you found the fella. I sometimes wonder how they hang themself around and such a lovely flexible body they have. TFS Ganesh (I also managed to find the fella. Will share later).
- [2009-03-03 2:18]
As neighbour I finally come to a short visit to this interesting Mantis-picture. On the thumbnail I didn't see it, that's perfect camouflage! I like the framing you have chosen, attracting our eyes on the head of the insect, surrounded by all these pretty white flowers. I like the combination of green and white color much too.
Very interesting also your note.
Thanks a lot and best regards