Welcome to my Praying Mantis page!

As I am getting the hang of using some close-up photography equipment I purchased recently, I raised Praying Mantises the summer and fall of 2011. I ordered five egg cases, which can contain 50-200 eggs each. They eat insects, including each other. I rely on this at first, as it is hard to find insects that are small enough for the newborns to handle. Mosquitos work great, as they are soft-bodied, very (over) abundant here in Wisconsin, and about the same size as the newborns. As they get bigger (up to 4-5 inches), the pictures will get more interesting, as I can feed them larger insects, like bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, etc...

The Praying Mantises started hatching on June 7th. It took a few days to get a good set-up together, with good lighting.
I got my first good feeding pictures on June 12th, with a small fly. On the 18th, I was photographing one in the corner of the aquarium with a mosquito, when another mosquito randomly landed on it. It didn't appear to be trying to rescue his buddy. It's a good size comparison.

Striking a good pose on June 19th, still the size of a mosquito.

On June 23rd, I noticed a good shot of a mantis eating another, head first (Pardon the blurry picture with bad lighting, I had just broke my 300-watt light bulb). Later that afternoon, while catching lots of bugs on the sides of my house, I noticed this jumping spider with a mosquito that was still kickin'.

July 4, 2011 - When I peeked into the aquariums early this afternoon, I finally found one just finishing molting, still hanging from his old skin that he just slipped out of.

July 6,2011 - Eating a Lacewing on the fake plants in the aquarium, and July 7, 2011 - Eating a Hover Fly on the screen window of the lid of the aquarium.

August 11, 2011 - Better shots, of a larger Praying Mantis, molting in its aquarium. The middle shot is a close-up of the head and front legs while hanging upside down. In the third shot, he's reaching for the branch, to pull himself the rest of the way out of his old skin.

August 19, 2011 - While at the Marsh Haven Nature Center today, I caught a Monarch Butterfly, and a dragonfly, to hand feed the mantises, and photograph. To go to a seperate page of just todays pictures, all full size, and more detailed text, click HERE.

August 31-September 3 - With a few Mantises to spare, and bugs getting harder to find around my porch lights at night, I started putting Mantises on the branch fastened to my bird feeder just outside my front window. As the birds land on this branch before going to the feeder, I thought I would get pictures of a bird catching a Praying Mantis, and eating it. It turns out that the Mantises are more intimidating to the birds than I thought, and it's more fun photographing the reaction of the Mantis, and the birds. Eventually, the Mantis falls to the ground to escape, at which point, I go outside and put it back on the branch, and go back inside and wait for the next bird to come along.

On September 13, 2011, bugs are getting harder and harder to find. Also, as the mantises are going through their last moltings, they are now sporting wings, and can fly. At this point, they are less interested in the bugs I catch for them, and more interested in taking flight and looking for a mate. It's time to release them into the wild in a local park. I chose State Natural Area #51 (what I like to refer to as "area 51"), where I do a lot of insect and wildflower photography, adjacent to Fond Du Lac County Park, at the NorthWest corner of Waupun, WI.

Before taking them to the park, I set up some potted Brown-eyed Susans in my yard to get some last pictures. The first picture below is a nice close-up, while the second shot shows one of the last few mantises that hasn't gone through his final molt yet, with only stubby, partial wings.

I had a few grasshoppers in the aquariums from when my brother brought them over a few days ago. I ripped the hind legs off of one of them to prevent an easy escape, and put him on the flowers. He made for some neat pictures, but the mantis never struck at him. He just took on his defensive position, as if he was afraid of it. The first picture below shows a mantis after his final molt, with full length wings.

Back to Jeff's INSECT PAGE

Back to Jeff's PHOTO GALLERY

Back to Jeff's HOME PAGE