Praying Mantis - August 19, 2011

While at the Marsh Haven Nature Center today, I wanted to catch some bigger bugs to feed to my Praying Mantises, but I forgot some containers. Larry, the founder and director, was nice enough to give me a couple from the kitchen, so with a couple cleaned out cottage cheese containers in one hand, and my camera in the other, I headed out to the back prarie. Nothing different, or unusual to photograph, but I did catch a butterfly and a dragonfly, before heading home.

When I got home, I took one of the mantises out of its aquarium, and and put it on a branch on my Grey Dogwood bushes on the side of my house. I held the Monarch Butterfly in front of him, and he quickly grabbed it. I was getting lots of great pictures.

I thought he had a good grip on the butterfly, but within about two minutes, it "got away", even though it didn't have a head, and it fell straight to the ground. I then remembered that Monarchs have a bitter taste, and make birds sick because of the milkweed that they eat as caterpillars, and I assumed it was the same with the mantis.

After he dropped the butterfly, I couldn't resist a close-up before taking him back in the house. For size comparison, those berries, in the last three pictures, are full grown, the size of a pea. They will eventually turn white, with red stems, by the time the leaves turn purple in the fall. It's a very colorful bush, and the berries are loved by birds, and other wildlife. I highly recommend the Grey Dogwood bush for those that think that "landscaping is for the birds". It's a native bush that was recommended to me by a DNR Wildlife Educator, and I love 'em.

I brought out another mantis to feed the dragonfly to. This one was very nervous about being handled, and being outside, and seemed almost afraid of the dragonfly. I took him back in the house, and because the dragonfly could no longer fly, I put him in the aquarium also. I went about my day for a couple more hours, until a higher priority came about..... It was time to sit down and watch the second pre-season Packer game of the year!!!

About twenty minutes before the end of the game, the Packers had a comfortable lead, and I saw that the mantis was still hiding from the dragonfly. I brought out the first, more aggressive mantis, and put him on a fake house plant in the living room, and set up the camera, tripod, and lighting.

I took the dragonfly from the other aquarium, and gave it to the mantis. He grabbed it instantly, and ate it, while I got plenty of pictures.

By the time the dragonfly was gone, and the photo shoot was over, I realized that I was so busy with the camera, that I never noticed that the Packers scored one more time, and went on to win the game.

A great day to be a Packer Fan, and a Bug Photographer!



Back to Jeff's HOME PAGE