This weekend, my dearest was dealing to the jungle that is our front garden. As he hacked his way through the foliage towards our garden bin, he noticed a heavily egg-laden mama PRAYING MANTIS.
The Orthodera novaezealandiae is only found in NZ, although there are similar species found in places such as South Africa and Australia.The New Zealand Praying Mantis is a large bright green insect with a small triangular head, large compound eyes, and also a smaller pair of less obvious eyes. They have a flexible neck and thorax. Forelegs are long and powerful and lined with sharp spines for catching prey. The female is noticeably larger than the males. The Praying Mantis is named for its common stance of holding up its forelegs as if in prayer.
Now this posting is not for the squeamish! Don’t read on if you are this way inclined.
This time of the year is apparently kinda like ‘Spring for Praying Mantises’. The Mama Praying Mantis (“Big Mama”) that K spotted, had a male PM (PM1) attached to her back as she continued with her daily routine. Pretty inconvenient, if you ask me!
Anyway, another male PM (#2) decided that he might like to cash in on the good times. Male PM 2 therefore started to approach Big Mama. I guess Big Mama must’ve been a bit hormonal, and instantly took objection to having any more freeloaders…
Unfortunately for PM 2, Big Mama was quite a bit bigger than him, and a bit hungrier too (since she was eating for about 25). And since Praying Mantises are carnivorous and totally unselective about their cuts of meat, PM2 suddenly found out (the hard way) that busy Big Mamas should never be messed with. Within the space of a few minutes, PM2 became Big Mama fodder (PMT(ea) !)
Yes, those are eyeballs hanging on the cobweb to the bottom left! Gross.
Naturally, Male PM1 continued to do what he was doing…probably with a certain amount of satisfaction (and relief that he was stuck at the other end)! In true PM fashion, he was still enjoying his job a few hours later as Big Mama finished off her fast food snack.
In NZ, we are a little more sophisticated and are spared some of the more gruesome habits of the other species of Praying Mantises. The female doesn’t always eat the male after his few hours of fun. Instead, because of sheer exhaustion, the male will die. Helpful. And to prove that she is the fairer sex, the female will also do likewise. Her exhaustion probably due to having to cart around a large belly full of eggs, plus entertain a male on her back, whilst fighting for her rights, as well as having to hunt for her own dinner.
Hmmm. I’m sure there is a moral in here somewhere.