Friday, March 26, 2010

Look-alike

Before I leave tomorrow on another tour guiding German-speaking guests through our beautiful country, I'd like to share a few more photos & some "research" I did to accompany my photos.

The large green praying mantis apparently is 1 of about 120 different species of mantis found in South Africa. They tend to inhabit our gardens, although I "found" this one in our kitchen - & happily snapped away. A mantis tends to lift its powerful forelegs in "prayer" = waiting to capture its prey (= other insects).

Did you know that infant mantises are called "nymphs"?

In direct contrast to what I think resembles a ballerina (in this photo) rather than a formidable killer, the sharply spined forelegs of a mantis can incapacitate grasshoppers, locusts, bees or wasps. Before a mantis "traps" its prey, it tends to put on a "calculated" display to strike terror into its intended victim: it opens its rear-wings, jerks spasmodically whilst emitting soft, puffing sounds, & transfixes its prey with eyes situated at either end of its mobile head.

Did you know that the Khoi-San worshipped this remarkable insect (hence the Afrikaans name, hottentotsgod)? Similarly the ancient Greeks thought of it as a prophet ("mantis" = prophet - in Greek). In Europe, many a legend is said to be attached to the mantis.

When it pounces, the mantis aims for the back of a victim's neck. Then with powerful jaws, it gnaws steadily at small mouthfuls.

In my opinion, a praying mantis (especially my specimen in these photos) has an ET (Extra-terrestrial) look about it!?




Please don't forget to "check out" my latest (A4-sized) book at: www.impi-impala.blogspot.com [SEE: Book cover below]