'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The predator

In the wisteria there prowls a fierce green predator. It is after the passionvine hoppers.

As the hopper slowly moves among the leaves, the mantis, cat-like, inches forwards.

It only moves when the hopper moves. When the hopper stops, the mantis freezes.

The two eyes are set far apart to maximise the binocular vision. The mantis is able to judge distances very accurately. And in addition can spot movement directly behind behind too.

It fixates on the still hopper. Then gently extends its antennae to softly touch the hopper. This is a mistake, for the next second ....

... the hopper has boinged off into the sky! Drat!

Undaunted, the mantis climbs into another area. Suddenly it's all over. I've missed the quick efficient stalking and the lightning attack. The hopper is clutched in those wicked claws and the soft parts are being consumed. All that is left to photograph is the systematic munching.

After three minutes two delta wings flutter separately down to the deck. The meal is over.


  1. I am so very impressed by the photos and your patience.

    I once managed to photograph a spider catching and devouring a blubottle. Somehow no one thought it was a suitable subject for my sensitive readers (I posted it on Eagleton Notes). The Mantis is as clinical and ruthless but it looks so much more pleasant and is a more aesthetically pleasing colour.

  2. I remember as a child seeing a film at school (films in the old hall every Friday) called "The Tiger of the Insect World" - it was of course all about the Praying Mantis - Paint the Mantis black, enlarge 100 of so times and you have got something out of the movie 'Alien' (quite the scariest movie I have ever seen) help! Sigourney Weaver, come save me!

  3. GB. I think blue-bottles are wonderful colours! A bit icky, but, up close, amazing iridescence.

    Alden - I probably saw that film too at school (the Tiger..., not Alien) and subconsciously reproduced it here.
    Alien was rather freaky, wasn't it! Aughhh, when that thing erupted from his chest! Auugghhhhhh!