Chinese buffet

Returning from this past trip, I noticed that one of the Chinese mantises (Tenodera sinensis) was now perched on the balloon flowers within easy reach of the cat mint, which is notorious for attracting pollinators by the boatload, and thus was almost twice the size as when I’d last seen one due to this proximity to effortless meals.

mid-size Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis staring into camera
I realize that this doesn’t show scale at all, which I did think about while shooting but had no simple solution to. Roughly, pushing the 6cm mark, so noticeably approaching adult size now though still a little ways off – call it a teenager. It likely thought that it was shielded from good view by that leaf overhead, and my initial shots had it in shadow, but I know how to maneuver a flash unit.

This image is cropped a little, about 3/4 of the full frame, but now we’re gonna go in closer for the details, because I’m Al Denelsbeck, and this is Walkabout.

Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis in closeup showing eyes in day to night transition
The eye facets are of course a nice touch, but what I’m showing here is the coloration, since this was taken at dusk last night and the eyes were in transition between the striped green daylight appearance and the pure glossy block nighttime fashion. The camouflage isn’t necessary at night, and the lack of pigmentation boosts their vision. Or so I’m told.

Nearby on the old man Japanese maple (the one that came with the house,) another mantis showed almost the same growth spurt and was slightly more cooperative in posing.

mid-size Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis posed on Japanese maple
I said slightly – I could have done without that leaf cutting across the forehead, but this was considerably better than my initial perspective. Once you commit to doing macro work in the field (or the front yard, as it were,) you will get into some peculiar and hard-to-maintain positions, and ones without cute little yoga names, too.

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