You never doubted it, did you?

juvenile Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis feeding on tiny prey
Because I’ve featured so many mantis photos in previous years, I have been lightening up on pursuing them recently unless I can see some specific behavior, but I still take the opportunity to snag a few photos when I can – especially if I find one feeding when I can take advantage of it. This Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) is on a potted curry plant, so-named not because it’s where curry comes from, but because it smells like it should be. And the deer don’t like it, so it stands guard in front of plants that the deer do like. The mantis itself is perhaps 30mm in overall length, so you can imagine how small the details are; I wasn’t going to get anything in there for scale without scaring off the mantis anyway. But after this establishing shot, I switched to the reversed 28-105 for much closer work.

juvenile Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis working on small leafhopper
The best I can say is that the meal looks like a tiny leafhopper to me, but I didn’t see the mantis make the capture and too much of it was already touring the mantis’ alimentary canal. If they have one. I imagine they do.

This is a ‘stacked’ shot, meaning two frames with slightly different focus points were combined to make something with a little greater depth-of-field. At this magnification, depth-of-field is virtually a myth. And you can tell this was taken during the day because the mantis’ eyes are colored and not black.

Getting the right flash angle was challenging, and in the course of attempting variations, the mantis spooked a little and went to another stem, but I was able to close in again and use the new perspective.

juvenile Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis finishing off meal
Halfway decent view of the palps, the ‘mouth fingers,’ and some unidentifiable fragments going down – this angle did not assist in my determination of the meal species at all. But you can see some unfocused fragments still clasped in a foreleg, which seem to show wing veins, so I’m staying with leafhopper. Unless it bothers you. If it bothers you, say so, and we can call it a roach if you like that better. Or whatever – I’m easy.

This would have been better as video, but almost impossible. I was leaning in at precise angles among and between the curry leaves, which would have been extraordinarily hard to get a tripod to emulate, and by the time I managed such the mantis would likely have been done anyway, if I didn’t spook it to a new location in the attempt. I know my limits. I’ll get video of feeding, and/or a capture, one of these days, but it will likely be with bigger specimens in undoubtedly better conditions.

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