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Praying Mantis

November 9, 2016

Praying Mantis

Elegant, beautiful praying mantises are also garden pest controllers, models for sci-fi monsters, symbols of female power (many bite off the heads of males after mating with them) and even pets (they live for about a year and dine on live insects). It’s always a treat to encounter one of these fascinating animals. In recent weeks they’ve been laying their eggs on branches—see the second photo, shared with us by Wendy Marie, showing the laying process and the protective foam that protects the eggs inside over the winter.

Many thanks to Wendy, Michelle Miklik of Alabama, Jacob Baker of Massachusetts, M. Thomas Richards of Virginia, Roni Duckworth of North Carolina, Annie Lee of California and Sitwat Mahmood for sharing with us these terrific shots of an insect that has been around in roughly its present form since at least the time of the dinosaurs (an 87-million-year-old transitional mantis fossil was found in amber in Japan in 2008—how cool is that?). Note that M. Thomas’s shots are before-and-after photos of a Carolina mantis gaining its wings…and yes, there are multiple types of mantis in North America, including European, Chinese and Carolina, so they don’t all look the same.

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