Whatever happened to…?

… the mantises that we watched hatch?

Well, they’re still around, I just hadn’t seen much of them from shortly after the hatching, coupled with being pretty busy myself. There’s a vague suspicion that a skink that we have living under the front steps might have feasted on a lot of them, but at least a few can still be found, now grown to about 30mm.

juvenile Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis posing on day lily leaf at night
They remain pretty easy to spook, so decent detail shots of their minuscule stature is still challenging. More challenging, however, is getting something other than basic poses – behavior, for instance. Now let’s face it: arthropods don’t exactly have a wild social calendar, their lives consisting mostly of eating and avoiding being eaten at this age, with the occasional molt. Later on, I might capture two specific actions that I haven’t done justice to yet, which is mating and producing an egg sac – the latter I’ve got some half-ass slides of, but the mantis was in contrasty light and yet buried within the needles of a pine, so, no, not useful by my current standards anymore.

juvenile Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis looking back over shoulder
“Who’s that singing back there?”

Which means that right, now, we just have fartsy poses.

juvenile Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis not looking back over shoulder
“Oh. Michael McDonald. Right”

While the hatching took place underneath the Japanese maple, some of them, as usual, have moved on to other locations in the yard. The day lily plants on the other side of the porch are always a crowd favorite, and several have taken up residence there, at least temporarily, so when the blooms finally come out (there are some buds visible now,) I’ll have a little more variety in setting to play with. At least one other has moved over to one of the rosemary bushes, now coming along nicely, which is gratifying.

juvenile Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis on rosemary plant
At the old place that we left three years ago this week, we’d had a rosemary bush that became too big to bring along in the move, and attempts to get new ones established here failed a couple of times over, but now we have three going strong, which is important because we use a good bit of rosemary in our cooking. A couple of times a year we have a roasted duck, and when everything’s removed from the carcass, it gets tossed into a pot with some onions and rosemary to make soup, which produces the best aroma in the world. Seriously, I’ll leave the house for a minute and come back in with cleansed nostrils just to inhale it all fresh again. You think I’m lying.

[A lot more ingredients and spices gets added in the later stages, by the way.]

The one on the rosemary displayed a curious pose that I’ve never seen before. Already well aware of my presence and having dodged around a little to try and escape my attention, it paused and stretched out, and might have been attempting to emulate the rosemary leaves and camouflage itself.

juvenile Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis possibly attempting to emulate the shape of rosemary leaves
It wasn’t reaching for another stalk, it hadn’t apparently sighted any prey, and it held the position for well over a minute – it certainly looked like mimicking behavior. I’ve just never seen a mantis do any such thing, with the possible exception of swaying to mimic breeze-blown leaves, and I’m not sure that wasn’t just a visual thing to help distinguish potential prey; I’ve seen raptors do that quite a bit.

So for now, we just have the fartsy shots – perhaps there will be something different later on. If I get the chance to do video of one capturing a meal, that would be a cool feature post, but I’ve only ever seen it a couple of times myself. Maybe I just have to stake them out for a while…

juvenile Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis emoting

[next] »