You know, I started wondering why I’ve never tackled this before, and then I realized it was because I never had something handy to use for the comparison.
You remember the photo from an earlier post, showing the newborn Chinese mantids (Tenodera sinensis) clustered on a twig? You know, this one:
That was taken within 24 hours of hatching, and while I have nothing to provide a direct scale, I can tell you that they’re about 10mm in body length, almost able to be mistaken for ants outside of the arena of macro photography.
Recently I got another photo, of a mantis posed on the exact same twig, from almost the exact same position. Herewith, a nice size comparison:
Displays the growth well, doesn’t it?
Now, a confession. Since this is the largest mantis I see in the area, I’m almost certain it was from an earlier hatching, one I did not witness, and therefore is not one of the brood seen in the first image. However, it is safe to say that it was the exact same size when hatched, so the comparison still stands. We can’t use the image dates to determine age, but I will guesstimate this one as about six weeks of age. Also noteworthy is the bare fact that this is not even halfway to adult size yet, being 45mm at best.
Another confession. While the mantis was quite close by, I had to coax it over to the twig just so I could do this. The pose, however, is all its own.
I couldn’t let this go without compositing the two images together for a very direct comparison.
The angle was slightly different (sue me) and, believe it or not, the image of the newborns overlaid atop the more recent image is slightly transparent, so the twig is actually doubled up – it’s hard to see the different shooting angle, isn’t it? I’m satisfied with it.
Like I said, I’m surprised I never tried this before, but even the plants that they have perched on have been growing in size at the same time, so there was never anything that they appeared alongside during different growth stages that remained the same. I’m glad now that I never removed the twig, which is one I planted there because the egg case was attached to it.
Am I going to be able to do this again, when one of them finally reaches adult size? You know I’ll be trying, but I can’t predict what will happen – we’ll just have to be patient.