Monday, October 31, 2011,
Here are a couple of shots of a female, (obviously), Praying Mantis laying eggs on a Goldenrod stem. This was not an obvious fact when I first came across this scene. I was walking through the farm fields at Avalon – has anyone noticed how many of my recent posts come from Avalon? – when something, maybe it was movement, I really don’t know, caught my eye. When I first saw it, I knew I was seeing something cool. (Yes, I am a product of my generation.) Some sort of large segmented worm that was seated in a leaf bud was making a cocoon for itself.
At this point I should maybe explain that Joe Kayaker is in need of bifocals that he does not yet wear. There could be some vanity at work here but let’s get back to the story at hand. Anyways, I took off my glasses and leaned in close for a better look. So cool, really. I really love nature at work. But at this point, I’m still seeing what I think is some weird caterpillar or segmented worm, although I don’t know of any worms that make cocoons. So I re-goggle myself (I can see, I can see!) and switch cameras for a wider angle (less close-up) and there is a mantis laying eggs. What I thought was a weird sort of worm was, instead, a pregnant abdomen and the leaf bud turned out to be the wings of an upside down Praying Mantis. I laughed right out loud. A real “duh!” moment for me but, hey, still very cool nonetheless.
What these pics don’t show is how ALIVE the abdomen was. It was moving this way and that while it was creating the Ootheca, or egg case. The back end of this critter seemed to have a mind of its own. Eyes, too, for that matter. It really seemed to be independent of the mantis. In fact, the rest of the Mantis’ body never moved during the twenty minutes I spent documenting this experience. Meanwhile, that back end was bending in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible. I usually think of insect bodies being stiff and tough. Exoskeletons, right? Not in this case. The abdomen was downright supple. It even looked soft and puffy in places. Ah well, Mother Nature never ceases to educate and entertain me. JK