Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Praying for its Prey!

A praying mantis (Pseudocreobotra wahlberg)

As I’ve never posted any photos of traditional flowers like roses, I decided to publish this today. I have several climbing roses across two of my boundary walls which do not need spraying with insecticide, and are low-maintenance. So they stay.

I also have three very sturdy bush roses in the garden near my house. Every October they bloom profusely for a six to eight weeks. In April they give me another spectacular show of colour. They, like their climbing cousins, never get sprayed and I get away with a little light pruning twice a year.

Last October I went outside to photograph the beautiful soft pink blooms on the bush visible from my office window. Imagine my delight when I spotted a praying mantis (Order Mantodea) on the rose. I took these photos.

I’d previously only seen green praying mantis (Sphodromantis gastrica) here in my garden. This one was a patterned brown and yellow, (Pseudocreobotra wahlberg) with eye-like markings (ocelli) on its forewings so it was a really special sighting.

A praying mantis spends much of its time sitting motionless with its forelegs held up in an attitude of prayer. What this cunning carnivore is “praying for" is simply that a fly, spider or beetle will settle within arm’s reach. Then the powerful forelegs fringed with spines and with the force of a pair of pliers, pounce into action. The mantis’ sturdy jaw soon reduces the prey to a mince. Even bees and wasps are consumed.

There are 120 species in Southern Africa. The large green mantis is a regular visitor to gardens. Since it feeds on other insects it performs a useful horticultural service.

So it depends where you are in the food chain whether you steer clear of the praying mantis or not!


  1. Beautiful photos Jo, thanks for sharing them with us, along with some info on the delightful praying mantis !

  2. No Peggy, they're quite harmless to humans ;) Hugs Jo

  3. Thanks for that Lynda, Hugs Jo


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