Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Epic Battle

Mantids are scary. If they were the size of cats, I think we'd be screwed.
I was already a little freaked out by them, with their too-intelligent eyes that follow you when you walk by. Then I had to go and witness this:

I was cleaning the large animal area at work the other day when I noticed three praying mantis sitting together on a fence post. Two larger ones which I assumed were females, and a smaller one, probably male. I admired them for a moment, then continued on with my work. A few minutes later, I glanced over at them just in time to see one of the females take a few steps and leap onto the other female, grasping her thorax. Soon it was a fight to the death. They grappled, biting at each other's faces and arms.

A few minutes after that, I watched the male tiptoe closer and closer to the fight, then finally hop onto the back of the attacking female and start to mate with her as she was killing (and eventually decapitating and eating) the other female. I don't know his fate, because I had to go back inside. But when I came out an hour later, only the (now engorged) victorious female remained on the fence, with a pathetic pile of shredded wings on the ground below her feet.



Nature, red in tooth and claw, indeed.


Retrieverman said...

When we were kids, we'd collect the egg cases and let them hatch inside the house. Mantis nymphs are tiny replicas of the adults-- and they eat each other!

Some friends of ours brought in a "u-cut" Christmas tree from our farm. We raised Christmas trees-- long story-- but there was an egg case on the tree. All was well, but they failed to notice there was a mantis egg case on one of the branches. After about a week inside the house, the baby mantises were everywhere.

We have a lot of introduced Chinese mantids around here, as well as European ones. I don't think any are native to this part of North America. There is a Carolina mantis, but it's not found here.

Retrieverman said...

Have you ever seen the aquatic version (of sorts)-- the giant water bugs or "toe biters"?

I had one get in my gold fish tank (somehow), and it was hell on my little goldfish!

Suzanne said...

I am also freaked out by giant water bugs. A friend used them in his master's thesis, IIRC, and would bring to club meetings in little dishes. He'd pick them up like it was nothing, but I was much more hesitant.

Retrieverman said...

I've been bitten by a bug of some sort in a pond. It bit me on the ankle.

I assume it was a giant water bug, because it hurt like hell.