Tuesday 28 April 2015

The Praying Mantis Perseveres

During several days of damp, gloomy weather the flies remained in hiding and the praying mantis did not eat. She was visibly thinner until two warm days brought the big flies out. Since then it has been raining. This afternoon when the rain had stopped I saw her lying flat on her leaf, instead of standing with the front part of her body upright. I took a couple of shots of her and when I looked at the enlarged images I saw the reason for her odd behaviour.    (Click on the photo to enlarge)

The praying mantis is lying flat peering at a tiny fly on the leaf below

A moment later she has it between her two front legs. The fly's little round head can be seen to the right of the cyan colour patch on her inner thigh

I don't know what chance she has of a mate finding her. For the last three months I have seen only one other mantis, a male. He had lost one of his great front legs, which would reduce his ability to survive. Usually at this time I would expect to know the whereabouts of 5 or 6, both male and female.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Praying Mantis in the Rain

 Two wet days mean the big flies have stayed under cover. The praying mantis has not eaten since the day before yesterday. Nevertheless she remains on her leaf in the open, ready to snatch anything that comes within reach. By early evening she was still there and the rain had become heavier.

She was out very early this morning, in spite of the rain.
Sometimes a small fly came tantalisingly close.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Praying Mantis and Prey

The praying mantis I have been observing for several weeks caught and consumed two drone flies this morning. Recent cold weather means that she was unable to catch her food and her swelling abdomen had grown quite slim. Drone flies are bigger than blowflies and they will help fatten her up again.

New Zealand praying mantis, Orthodera novaezealandiae.

This was her first drone, almost finished. Note the dewdrops under her shadow, showing how she remains in one place without moving for long periods.

Here she is eating the second drone, with her leaf littered with unwanted fragments of both insects.

Note her jaw-like forelegs. One grips the body of the fly while the other has just lifted a piece to her mouth. The bright coloured spots on her inner thighs distinguish this New Zealand species from a similar Australian one.

Enjoying her meal.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Early Snow

It's unusual to get snow so early in the autumn, especially after a particularly hot, dry summer. But get it we did last night, and by morning it had turned to hard ice.

Abners Head in the early morning sunshine

Mount Torlesse late afternoon
My back path was too treacherous to walk on