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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nature Study: Praying Mantis

SO cool!

The boys spotted this yesterday outside our house just above my bedroom window. How cool!! Today in our school Bible time, we read about how 'God Made All Things Good' in Leading Little Ones to God: A Child's Book of Bible Teachings by Marian M. Schoolland. And boy did He ever! I'm just SO excited when the Lord provides us with a special object lesson! He is a personal God! He was showing off his creation! Today, I think what I saw was an egg case above my door! I'm going to try to get a better picture of it a little later... We may just get an up close and personal look at mantis nymphs after a little while! Here's a kinda blurry picture of what I suspect might be the egg case. This little yellowish-brown thing is right where we saw the mantis yesterday in the crevice up between the top of the wall and the roof.

So in order to have a really productive nature study, we looked up in Travellers' Wildlife Guides Peru (our Peru field guide), for mantis AND Handbook of Nature Study ... Nothing!

So a-googling we go...


Here are the most interesting Praying Mantis facts:
Facts taken from article at this link )

Most commonly known as the Praying Mantis, order mantodea is a group of about 1800 carnivorous insects which prodominatley live in tropical regions of the earth.
"...mantids were created for hunting and killing prey."
The head has the ability to turn 180 degrees. With their prominate pair of compound eyes located on the sides of the head, the mantis can almost see 360 degrees around.
These legs can regenerate if broken, but only in the molting process. These limbs that regenerate are always smaller than they were originally. A full grown adult that no longer molts no longer possess the ability to regenerate limbs.
"...mantids are fairly weak flyers."
The mantid is an auditory cyclops, which means it only has one ear. The ear is 1mm long with cuticle like knobs at either end and two ear drums buried inside. The ear is specially tuned to very high ultrasonic freqeuncies of sound waves from 25 to 65 kilohertz. Apparently, the ears primary purpose is designed to respond to the ultrasonic echo-location signal used by hunting bats. The mantis primarily uses its ultrasonic ears while in flight. When a mantis senses a bats ultrasonic echo at close range, it curls its abdomen upwards and thrusts its legs outward creating a drag and resulting in a sudden aerial stall. This flight manuever of the mantis creates an unpredictable flight pattern for the bat, and
is very effective at avoiding hungry bats.
There are three ways to distinguish between female and male mantodea. The male has 8 segments, while the female has 6. The second is size, the female is always bigger than the male. The third is behavior, the male mantis is more prone to take flight in search of a mate, while the female often remains stationary.
"...some species will eat anything from small birds to reptiles."
Mantids attack by pinching, impaling prey between its spiked lower tibia and upper femur. The mantids strike takes an amazing 30 to 50 one-thousanth of a second. The strike is so fast it cant be proccessed by the human brain.
The egg laying process takes 3 to 5 hours long. There can be anywhere from 30 to 300 eggs laid in a sitting. Emerging nymphs feed on whatever small insects they can get their claws on, including their brothers and sisters.
"The primary enemies to mantids are spiders, birds, snakes, mammals (especially bats), and man."
The mantis has four primary methods for defense. The mantids green and brown exo-skeleton color help aid in camouflage. The mantids ability to stand perfectly still for extremely long periods of time cause it to be over looked by predators. When confronted by an enemy the mantis asumes the startle display, rearing its fore legs up and spread apart, and rattling its wings. The ultrasonic ear is also a form of defense for the mantis.
The praying mantis plays an important role in natures insect pest control plan. The praying mantis is one of the few predators with that are
fast enough to catch mosquitos and flies while their in flight.
For thousands of years they have captured our imagination, and curiosity.

"The word mantis comes from ancient greece
and means diviner or prohpet."
Many cultures have credited the mantid with a variety of magical qualities. In the southern portion of the U.S. it is believed that if the brown saliva of a mantis ever comes in contact with you, youll go blind. This mystical saliva also has the potential to kill a horse. In France it is believed that if a lost child is ever in the woods and cant find his way home the praying stance of the mantid will direct them toward safety. The Turks and Arabs believe the mantid always prays toward Mecca. During the European Middle-ages it was thought that the mantis was a great worshiper of god due to the great amounts of time spent in prayer.
"In China it is believed that the roasted egg cases of mantids will cure bed wetting in people."
In Africa, if a mantid ever lands on someone it will bring that person good luck. It is also believed that the mantis possess the power to bring the dead back to life.

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

Ahem, who is more excited here...mum or the boys?

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