Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Praying Mantis

(click on picture for a close-up)

This has got to be one of my favourite insects. I spotted this guy resting on a pillar beneath the Gardiner near the mouth of the Don. From the order Mantodea there are roughly 2000 species worldwide, mostly in tropical and subtropical climates. It normally holds its two front legs folded up in front of its head like someone praying, hence the name.

A masterful predator, it subsists mostly on flies and insects. It uses its green body to blend in with vegetation and waits for an unsuspecting victim to crawl by. With lightning speed it grabs its prey with its two front legs and quickly devours it. Wikipedia (one of my favourite internet information resources) has a link to another page which someone took of a praying mantis catching a hummingbird! As an opportunistic hunter I suppose it doesn't discriminate as to the contents of its lunch. Creatures like these continue to make the Don a fascinating place.

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