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Monday, October 12, 2009

Skeletons and Ghouls

Ever since I released some chinese mantids (Tenodera sinensis) into the yard several years ago there have been increasing numbers of other mantids (Stagmomantis californica). Being general predators (one that will eat just about any insect, including those bigger than its head) maybe the T. sinensis cleared the competition out of the way, giving the S. californica a chance to get established and then overpower (read: eat up) the foreigners. Right now in autumn the garden shrubbery is hung with mature mantids waiting upside-down for prey to happen by. It's surprising how difficult these large insects are to see until your face is uncomfortably close to them, who like tiny Igors pretend to be friendly as they size up your edibility.

These mantids, like other orthopterans, leave their shed exoskeletons behind as they grow and molt. Here's a few I found this summer, artistically ghoulish decorations for the discerning eye.

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