November Mantis

Friday, November 17, 2017,

20171109133204 (1)-5x7wtww30

This was the first, and very likely the last, Praying Mantis I saw all year. I had pretty much given up the hope of photographing one this season when I found this lady beside the handle of our screen door. I didn’t take her picture because I like my shots to look like they were taken “in nature”. She camped out there for four days, long enough for us to expect her to greet us when we came home. Then, one afternoon when I arrived home she wasn’t there. I searched and I searched, and there she was, in the leaf litter to the side of the doorway. And then I was able to get my “in nature” shot. Thank you Ms. Mantis. JK

A Bad Day For Mr. Mantis

Sunday, October 9, 2016,


This is not why I’m single but it certainly is food for thought. And for female Praying Mantises. I got these shots during yesterday’s Four Harbors Audubon Society birding walk at Avalon Preserve. Please take note of Mr. Mantis’s missing head and of the severed leg that Mrs. Mantis is grasping in her right front leg. Is that a forelimb or foreplay? Mr. Mantis was enjoying a terrific morning and then the check came. Next time bring cash. By the way, the participants are still conjoined. He may have lost his head but Mr. Mantis remembered why he came to the party.





Mantis Laying Eggs

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

Praying Mantis During The Bird Walk

Thursday, September 15, 2011,

The Four Harbors chapter of the Audubon Society had our monthly walk at Avalon this past Saturday morning. We meet every second Saturday at the Duck Pond at Stony Brook. If you’ve never been to Avalon, this makes for a great free tour. You don’t need to know Jack about birds to join us but you may come away with an education. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. Much.

And you won’t just learn about birds, either. Many of our regular walkers are very knowledgeable about plants as well as a myriad of other subjects. I’ve got lousy hearing but I’m always trying to eavesdrop on conversations to learn little tidbits. I’ve been playing in the woods since I was five and I used to think I knew a lot about our local wildlife but I learn more and more at each of these walks. It’s great. A good deal of this kind of information is not easily found in books or even online. Plus, it’s a very enjoyable way to spend a morning.

Oh yeah. About the Mantis. That’s what this post is about, right? Well, despite the previous paragraph, I had to consult books and online resources. And I managed to learn something. Maybe it’s new to you too. This is a Chinese Mantis. The size alone – this one was at least 3.5 inches long – tells us this. These guys are an introduced species from, yes, China.  Since their debut in 1895 these guys have become fairly common in the northeast. They were brought here as a form of pest control and there is no doubt that they are very capable predators. There is even documentation of of hummingbirds being taken by these critters. That’s impressive. Not pretty, but impressive. JK.