I haven’t really seen that many praying mantids this year as compared to last year, but I was glad to see that these are doing their part to ensure next year will be better. The male definitely paid the price though! I encourage their presence in my garden as much as I can. When I find egg-cases out in the rest of the yard, I move them into the fenced part of the garden so that the chickens won’t eat the hatchlings immediately as they emerge next year.
Researchers with too much time on their hands did some tests, and discovered that the body of the male mantis is perfectly capable of …um… completing this transaction without input from the head and thorax. She gets some extra protein to build the eggs with, and he gets to play his part in creating them. What the picture doesn’t show is that there was another male about a foot downstem of this pair, waiting his chance to approach. I wonder if he got his chance, and since she’d already eaten, I wonder if he got to keep his head!
Aside from their role as bug-eaters, for which I have enormous gratitude, I adore praying mantids as elegant and intelligent insects – the San Bushmen of Africa regard them as representatives of their god, whom they also call Mantis. When you see one, go look and see if it doesn’t look right back at you.