26 October 2011

Fascinating Facts About Our House Guest

Since last Friday, we have had this unexpected guest living on our carport door:

A praying mantis!  I've seen praying mantises (manti?) elsewhere, but never in our neighborhood, much less anywhere near our house!  As you can probably imagine, all of the neighbors have been here to see/photograph/comment on this house guest.

This shot is a little better.  I was going show it to Jetsam and Pip, but then I realized that a) if they did actually see it, they would be even more anxious than usual to go outside, or b) they would look but see nothing.  So I just skipped that plan.

The next picture is one I'm particularly proud of - I said (because yes, I even talk to insects), "I want to see if I can get a picture of your face," and it turned towards me!

"I'm ready for my close-up."

I sent these pictures to one of my entomologist friends at work, and he told me the following things, all of which fascinated me:

1.  This is a Chinese mantid, most likely female, having just laid eggs nearby, or getting ready to lay eggs.

2.  Mantids hatch from eggs, and then just go directly to their body design - skipping the pupa stage.  So as it grows, it sheds its skin when it becomes larger.

3.  Chinese mantids are an invasive species, in that they are not native.  And Chinese mantids (as opposed to European mantids) are seen only above the Mason-Dixon Line.

4.  They live for approximately one year, and die shortly after laying eggs.

5.  They do not have brains.

6.  Their ears are on their thorax.

7.  They are one of the few insect species that can move their heads back and forth!

Perhaps the most amazing thing - to me at least - is that I wasn't freaked out seeing this in the first place.  Clearly, working at a museum of natural history and being friends with entomologists has given me a different reaction (at least most of the time).

Having said that, if this had in any way jumped/flew towards me, I would have probably have a heart attack ... I mean, it's not like I've changed that much, in the end!


Jenn said...

I would have run screaming off into the sunset, interesting facts be damned.

Kim said...

If they don't have brains, how do their thoraxy ears process sound?

Didn't know there'd be a quiz, didja?

Marie said...

I'd probably freak out, too, if a praying mantis flew at me. I'm amazed that they have no brain. Very interesting and enlightening post!! Thanks.

Bridget said...

Kim - according to Greg (entomologist), their thorax-y ears sense vibration, and they react to things based on ganglia that respond to stimulation.

Bet you didn't think I'd have an answer, huh????

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

That one picture where he's turned to look at you is very creepy ~ it almost looks like an alien face! The most exotic "bug" I've had here is a potato bug and I'll match you for creepy there - LOL

Still feeling a little low about last Saturday, if you know what I mean....

Carrie K said...

I love your pictures of her. I'm not sure I could get close enough! My fear of insects waxes and wanes in the most peculiar way.

That close up is just amazing!

Kim said...

Actually, I supposed that if anyone could come up with an answer, it would be you! <3

Anonymous said...

I adore mantises precisely because they can turn their heads. They usually look at me like "You talking to ME?" and get into a fighter stance. I think they're New Yorkers.