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CONVERSATION WITH A MANTIS

Updated: Sep 23

Recently, I encountered a mantis in my backyard garden. It was in the process of eating a bee and was holding the head of its prey in one of its spined forelimbs.

I was immediately put off by this attack on my backyard bee, but decided to spend some time photographing the mantis.

A mantis like bees have five eyes. Two large compound eyes and three others. The two large compound eyes are easily seen and are thought to provide object direction, while the other three are used for light detection. The mantis has pseudopupils which appear to follow you, but are an effect of an observer's line of vision with the compound eyes.

Notice the luminescence of a third eye in this photograph.

Spending some time with the insect, it displayed a range of reactions. Through an anthropomorphic lens I began to see it as communicative.

It could seem coy.

At times it could seem menacing.

At others an abrupt shock response could be proffered in response to an uncomfortably close lens. Was it feigned?

It would sometimes seem bucolic. But that was rarely so, and not for long.

A bee hazards a flight near the mantis. An associate was eaten nearby earlier that morning.

Two species of mantids reside in Missouri. The Carolina Mantis, and the Chinese Mantis. The Chinese Mantis was introduced to the region in 1986.

Although this is not an expert opinion, this subject appears to be a Chinese Mantis.

Reportedly, mantids are voracious predators and have been known to devour humming birds, seemingly without remorse.