Look, Everyone! It’s the Tuesday Mantis!

Because is it really a Tuesday without a picture of a mantis? I don’t think so, either.

This one was on my rabbit hutch, about a half hour ago. This was shortly before it got exasperated with me and flew off, prompting both my wife and daughter to exclaim, in dismay, “THEY FLY?!?” Why, yes! Yes they do. And now you know.

47 Comments on “Look, Everyone! It’s the Tuesday Mantis!”

  1. I love Mantis – they are amazingly diverse, often quite beautiful, and have a wonderful attitude. We welcome our new Mantis overlord! :-)

  2. My mother-in-law just came over last night and when I opened the door, there was a mantis just hanging out on the door frame. It looked at me like, “Hey, I heard you guys have cake inside.”

    It was right, we did have cake.

  3. You see, today my brain finally succumbed to the abuse being visited upon it from a summer’s full of studying probability, math stats, regression etc. so when I saw this, on a short break, my mind went daydreaming. Off it went and it created a band called “Mantis” where we all performed, G.W.A.R.-style! In overly-elaborate but completely impractical bug costumes. Of course the performance wouldn’t be complete without devouring our audience mantis-style.

    Oh well, daydream over. Back to Lehmann-Scheffe, or is that “Lemon chiffon”?

  4. I see that Mrs. Scalzi’s skepticism about flight ability extends beyond snowmen.

  5. At first I thought the right eye was a tiny bowler hat. Then I looked more closely and my world become poorer.

    I had no idea they could fly. You mean one might turn up splattered on my windshield?

  6. They are fine animals. Only bug I know of that actually looks you in the eye. If you can catch appropriate prey species and hand them to one (they only seem to grab moving things) it may hang around for a while, they’re a bit like cats in that regard. There are quite a few bugs that have the ability to fly but can’t usually be bothered, like cockroaches and some larger beetles.

    Mantis *shrimp* sound even more fun. A crustacean that can learn to recognise people? What?

  7. Yes, cockroaches do fly, witness the B-52 Cockroach in HI:

    Mantises are one of the few insects I like well enough to carefully pick up and move if they are in a dangerous location. They have moxie and even tiny ones will threaten with their forelegs if you try to poke at them with a finger.

  8. I used to teach in a school attended primarily by inner-city kids who knew next to nothing about nature. One day I saw them gathered around something on the ground, with the guys trying to stomp on it but missing, largely due to being freaked out. I stepped into the circle and, seeing the mantis that was trying very hard to get away, I lowered a hand to it, coaxed it into my hand, and carried it to a nearby tree, where I let it crawl onto a leaf.

    I earned major cred that day. The kids just couldn’t believe I wasn’t afraid of something so “freaky” looking.

  9. I learned mantis could fly when I saw one land on the outside wall near my 6th floor window.

    It was big enough to catch my eye as it flew by.

  10. This is the second mantis picture I’ve seen today, and I was in no way looking for mantis pictures. Mantis Tuesday indeed!

  11. That is pretty cool. I rarely get to see one.

    Last one I found was hitching a ride on a pallet of product at my workplace. I got a box and presented it to him (assuming it was a he). After giving it a thoughtful look, he gently approached it and stepped inside. I walked him outside and across the lot to the trees beyond, lifted the box to a branch and he walked right out onto it, all as if we orchestrated it in advance. He gave me an appreciative look. I winked back, and we went our separate ways.

    Beautiful creatures.

  12. Late last century I saw one in the hallway.
    I moved slowly to pick it up and take it outside.
    And it punched my finger about six times.
    And I put it outside.

    I’ve heard a story.
    Some kid found a preying mantis egg case.
    Took it inside.
    They hatched.
    His bedroom walls, ceiling and floor were covered
    with little babies.
    His mother screamed, quite loudly.

  13. We had a small relative of that one on our windshield last Thursday. He managed to hang on until we got to the stop sign, so I had to reach outside and bring him in the car with us until we got to yoga class, at which time I released him onto a bush. I’m glad he didn’t decide to fly around in the car.

  14. The last one I saw measured only about 1 cm in length. I had to look very closely at it to determine what it was, and felt pretty surprised that I had even noticed it.

  15. Back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was in first grade, a jerky kid brought a big green mantis into school in a glass jar. Not a genius, this kid. So in the process of trying to scare all the girls on the playground (and freaking out himself and his buds) the jar got dropped and broken, kids scattered screaming and the poor bug was left trying to deal with pieces of broken glass larger than it was.

    So I walked up and picked it up, and took it to a tree and released it. I wish I’d been able to spend more time with it, but the priority was getting it out of the reach of Dimbulb and his brethren. I had very little respect for my classmates after that.

  16. Shawn T @ 9:18 – Mantis egg cases will hatch 100 – 200 tiny critters. A friend used to order them from the Department of Fish and Game for his greenhouses as they will devour other bugs then each other until only one or two remain. Also very cool to watch :-D

  17. I, too, didn’t know that mantises fly.

    That’s some scary shit. *cowers under the covers* There are just certain things I don’t want being able to fly at me.

  18. Donna Leonard @ 7:28: Yes, cockroaches do indeed fly. The flying variety generally do not present in North America. I lived in Hong Kong for a number of years and it was not unusual for an inch+ long cockroach to fly into your livingroom when you had all of your windows open to take advantage of the cooling winds of an oncoming typhoon in the midst of summer when otherwise you would be suffering 99 degrees fahrenheit temperatures and 99% humidity for 5 months. Freaked me out the first time it happened!

  19. I remember the first time I saw a mantis fly, transforming itself from a cute little bugger with a sort of inquisitive-looking head into a terror beast from which I fled. There’s something about flying that makes things infinitely more frightening to me. I do not fear mice–they are small and relatively harmless. But slap some leathery wings on one and call it a bat and it becomes a dread demon which inhabits my room as a phantom during the night, disallowing sleep.

  20. Last year, my daughters and I raised mantises from egg cases with good success. They really do make fine pets, provided that there are bugs in the yard (and that you separate them to avoid cannibalism before they are about a month old). You just need to adjust the size of the prey you feed them as they grow up. And you can buy egg cases from a number of places pretty cheaply (we got ours from Arbico Organics, and paid about $10 for three egg cases)

  21. Confirming the flying thing, I had one land on my arm down by the lake last night. Perhaps he zoomed straight up I-71 after leaving you place? Also,how many opportunities are there to link to the video of “Praying Mantis” by Don Dixon? Not very many, so…

  22. I’ve seen them fly before… but, oddly, I don’t think it was on a Tuesday.

    More recently, I discovered that Giant Mutant Cockroaches (either American Cockroach or Palmetto Bugs; can’t really tell the difference) also fly. Yikes!

  23. My wife and I were swarmed by Mantises (Manti?) while playing tennis last year. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have been bright enough to take pictures of the event.

    I’m going to have to look into the “raise your own Mantis heard” option. Will they, by any chance, eat black widow spiders??? Or, at least: mosquitoes?

  24. I had no idea that mantes were in the continental US. They flourished on Guam when I was a kid. The hair on my neck would rise as I watched them chow down on whatever they caught, prey clamped in its (likely her) claws, complex jaws methodically devouring said prey. If you get close, they’ll look at you, then do that swaying dance. Look into their eyes and you’ll see a small black dot buried in the center. That dot will follow you as you move. That was always creepy to me–and still is.

  25. For everyone who’s freaked out by the mantis’s ‘gaze’: I’m trying to find a reference, but that black dot pointing at you in the mantis eye is an optical effect, not an indicator of attention. Those are still compound eyes. He or she is looking in the direction of every facet at once. It’s just that the facet that happens to be perpendicular to your line of site reflects and scatters light differently.

  26. @CHoldredge: thanks for that explanation. I checked this out further on the web and found it referenced as a ‘pseudopupil’. It’ll stil freak me out but at least I recognize it as an optical effect now.

  27. A beau’s dad once said a mantis had bitten through a leather glove he was wearing.
    Last mantis I saw was exactly the color of the yellow wall it was clinging to; I hadn’t known they could change color before that.
    It’s the articulation of the mantis head that gets me — the way they turn and look at you.

  28. One or two hundred of them. Figure one minute to catch each one…. > X-0

    About size. Planks are usually 0.75 inch thick.
    The plank in the pic is about 40 pixels tall, the PM is ~290 pixels long: 7.25
    times however thick the wood is gives a probable 5.4 inches.
    So maybe the board is a half inch thick.

  29. Oh
    Mom informs me that the this was she and my
    big brother, and that the little ones were about a
    quarter inch long.

    Mom is one who would chew up crickets to feed
    a cute baby.

    She only screams about spiders and bad dreams.

  30. @Cyan: “The flying variety generally do not present in North America.”

    Oh yes they do. They’re called palmetto bugs, and you find ’em all over the place in Florida.

  31. That’s the Air Force model of mantis. New Zealand has the Army model, which is bigger and more solid but doesn’t fly — it’s called a weta.

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