Giant Praying Mantis

This beautiful and quite large Mantis blundered into our garden, and truly these are some of the coolest insects I know of, so I was mighty pleased she did.

Highly evolved with an impressive array of weaponry, they make fearsome hunters and will tackle prey quite a lot larger than themselves, inc reptiles and frogs.

I suppose one of the more commonly known aspects of Mantis behaviour is the disquieting habit of the females who often attempt to consume the male during copulation ... gives a whole new meaning to the term 'dinner date' eh?

Still romance, or the lack-thereof are just one small part of these insects amazing behaviours and the casual observer can be rewarded with just a little patience watching these Lions of the flower pots do their thing.

Anyway, enough of my prattling - here's some pics:

Heirodula sp

Beautiful in my opinion

The last thing many small critters ever see

Close-up of the modified forelimbs (raptorial legs) used for grasping prey

Mantises may have a visual range of up to 20 metres. Their compound eyes may comprise up to 10,000 ommatidia. The eyes are widely spaced and laterally situated, affording a wide binocular field of vision) and, at close range, precise stereoscopic vision.

The dark spot on each eye is a pseudopupil. As their hunting relies heavily on vision, mantises are primarily diurnal. Many species, however, fly at night, and then may be attracted to artificial lights. Nocturnal flight is especially important to males in search of less-mobile females that they locate by detecting their pheromones.

Flying at night exposes mantises to fewer bird predators than diurnal flight would. Many mantises also have an auditory thoracic organ that helps them to avoid bats by detecting their echolocation and responding evasively. ^