Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's the season when the preying mantises come in from the cold

Suddenly there they are, hanging out on the window frames all over the house, before it's so cool that the windows are closed up tight. I'm happy to see them, numerous and healthy, though I wish they'd stay out in the garden. But they can catch the flies on the windowsills if they wish.

This is a male, with a narrow abdomen; the females I really wish would lay their egg capsules out in the roses.

Unusually among insects, they are large enough to see us and pay attention to our movements. Looking out for predators, I assume.

Some years ago, when I had several former feral cats, for whom hunting bugs was serious business, it was very hazardous for them to come near the lights in the summer. When the balcony light was on, they'd be clinging to the shingles above the balcony, hunting - except for the ones the cats dismembered.

And the ecology class rumor about their lifestyle is correct, sometimes the female beheads the male before mating. (In captive lines, the males can become reluctant to mate, (no surprise), so the biologist takes their heads off, and sets them down beside a female.) Without the inhibiting signals from the brain, the lower nerve ganglion, which has only one thing on its mind, is in control. They climb on and mate. Guys.

This photo was taken on 9/26/08. 

Oh, by the way, the commoner name is praying mantis. But they are certainly major predators, so I like preying mantis.

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