Wednesday, June 06, 2007

They Get Fed. Which Makes them...Restless.

Sitting in their terrarium, indoors, the baby mantids were quiet and calm. When LL brought them out in the sunshine, they may have livened up a bit from the light and warmth.

But it was quite clear that something else was absolutely, positively perking them up.


She opened a vial of fruit flies and dropped them in.

The praying mantises were hungry, and the instant they saw prey - dinner - they suddenly became alert. Focused, intently. Almost comically.

We watched for several minutes - in great suspense - as a fruit fly, oblivious to the threat, sat on a leaf and foolishly twitted his wings and washed his little feet. Behind him was a mantid, in full predator mode. With great care and deliberation, this mantid stalked closer and closer, coming up behind the fruit fly. Its movements were so slow and perfectly controlled we almost couldn't tell it was moving - but we could see it was closing the gap.

As the minutes went by, we tried to remember to watch the action in other parts of the terrarium. But looking away from this particular hunt was almost impossible to do.

The mantis finally crept within easy striking distance. The fruit fly was still utterly unconcerned. Suddenly the praying mantis snapped forth its powerful grasping forelegs so fast the motion was a blur, and it grabbed that fruit fly up. Triumphant and hungry, securely holding its prey, it wasted no time in settling down to dinner.

I wish I'd been able, somehow, to capture that with my limited equipment. But don't fret. There's an even better one I did catch. It's right down there in the next post.

And if you look closely at these pix below, you'll see more action going on than seems possible.

Here is a baby praying mantis sitting on LL's thumb. It looked to me like that little critter knew exactly who LL was. It sat there for quite a while, making no attempt to escape. It was perfectly contented right where it was, lounging about on LL's thumb; and went back in its terrarium with no argument when the time came.

Tiny and perfect. Looking up at her with those wondrous eyes.


Anonymous said...

The fruit flies I bought have a 25 day life cycle. I've got 3 vials of larvae and pupae and no fruit flies!! I bought an extra vial for the school cuz this terrarium had to go back home to the classroom, but these things are voracious!! I've bought Petco out of flies. LOL Hopefully the ones I have metamorph soon. I figure with the adults living a couple of days and at least several to get to full size from tiny larvae to that cocoon thing, it shouldn't take too much longer. Keep your fingers crossed cuz we don't want much more cannibalism!!

Nancy said...

They would probably eat the grubs too.

Granny J said...

Thank you, thank you for the pix, k. They're great! So much for fancy new cameras. I especially appreciated the little guy on LL's thumb -- really gave me an insight into his size and how he compares to the one (1 only) wee mantid that I ran into recently. The stalking you describe reminds me of my youth then I found an interesting critter with 6 legs in my pond net, transferred said critter to my aquarium & watched the dragonfly nymph capture & devour every other creature, including sizeable snails, by stalking & grabbing with its extendible mandibles.

k said...

Nancy, great point. You may not have to wait for them to pupate, LL. Has Big Monkey surfed up any news on that, or did the pet store say anything?