17 August 2009

Something weird in your hair Grandma!

…sez Ben:

Praying mantises are closely related to termites and cockroaches. The word mantis comes from the Greek word mantis meaning prophet or fortune teller. There is a well known myth that the female mantis will eat the male after reproduction. Studies have shown this is not necessarily natural behavior, but the result of being studied in un-natural laboratory conditions. Mantises are masters of camouflage, both to avoid being eaten themselves, and to ambush their prey. The natural lifespan of a mantis in the wild is about 10-12 months. The mantis can lash out at remarkable speed, prey are caught and held securely with grasping, spiked forelegs. Their diet usually consists of living insects, including flies and aphids. Larger mantises have been known to eat small lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, and even rodents.
Mantids are found only on land in rainforests, dry forests, undisturbed and second-growth forests. Many gardeners consider mantises to be desirable insects, as they prey upon many harmful insect species. Organic gardeners who avoid pesticides may encourage mantises as a form of biological pest control. When directly threatened, many mantis species stand tall and spread their forelegs, with their wings fanning out wide. The fanning of the wings evidently makes the mantis seem larger and more threatening. Sexual cannibalism is common among mantises in captivity, and under some circumstances may also be observed in the field. The female may start feeding by biting off the male’s head (as with any prey), and if mating had begun, the male’s movements may become even more vigorous in its delivery of sperms.

Mantids in general are very harmless critters. They, in general, don't attack human beings, instead focusing their attacks on prey items. As a matter of fact you can usually handle a wild praying mantis without any concern for a bite. The Mantis is sitting on the hair of my mother-in-law and my little nephew Boss is watching her and that odd creature ;-)

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