Mini Mantis

Lately many voxers have posted gorgeous photos of beautiful butterflies, fascinating dragonflies and cute baby birds which they have found in their gardens or nearby environs.

In my backyard I find aphids, mosquitoes and leaves ruined by scale and sooty mould!  (And, my rampant tomato bush :-)). 

I have 2 bay (laurel) tree seedlings which I am nursing through an attack by evil mealy bugs. Expecting to find more mealy bugs I was thrilled to find a tiny little preying mantis sitting in the pot!!

The word "mantis" comes from the Greek word mantis for prophet or fortune teller.  They are exclusively predatory – hence "preying" – and enjoy living insects including aphids and hopefully, mealy bugs!

A mantis nymph increases in size by replacing its outer body covering with a sturdy, flexible exoskeleton and molting between 5 and 10 times.  Its closest relatives are termites and cockroaches …….  hope it doesn't invite them over for any coming out party!!!

Did you know that you can buy preying mantis egg cases????? 

Bugs 4 sale    Maybe I can get rid of my aphids afterall!!    

These were taken with my trusty point & shoot Canon PowerShot.

My forefinger to show how small this little mantis is!   The more photos I took the more his little head swivelled!

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29 responses

  1. I had my reading glasses on looking for the mealy bugs otherwise I don't think I would've seen him. When he got sick of me and my finger he climbed and hid under the leaf.

  2. No what…I found 2 more today! Yay for Baby Mantises!This one looks a tad bigger then the ones I found…posting tomorrow.They are my Fave! (I found a brown one too!)Nice shots!

  3. Fantastic! they will do good things for you — they're voracious and determined and from what I've seen, brave — I saw one (the mother, I guess) attack a big wasp that was flying at a baby mantis…Yay!!!!! that's so cool!

  4. Cool photos! I love the look of mantises. (manti?) Gosh, if only I had one of these when the aphids were invading my spearming (indoors in a pot)! Of course, my cats probably would have eaten it.

  5. LOL – I have very small fingers – I'm sure my mantis is smaller than yours!!! – ha ha. I look forward to seeing your shots. You have better macro capabilities than me so you get to fill your frame with the whole thing.

  6. Wow! Seeing one attack a wasp must've been amazing. They are really interesting creatures. Do you know that in Australia some of them can change colour to black so they can be camouflaged after bushfires – when all the landscape is black.

  7. Thank you! I knew there was someone who had told me they had aphids inside! Maybe I will buy an egg case and see if they hatch, survive, grow and eat my aphids and mealy bugs. It could be interesting.

  8. Thanks for explaining the origins of "preying mantis"–I never looked it up and was until now, sadly misinformed.
    Did you know that ladybugs are very good aphid eaters? Also insecticidal soap spray helps w/ aphid infestation says my spouse, the gardener.

  9. On the same site where I found the mantis eggs for sale they sell live ladybugs!! 1500 ladies for $12 I think!! I tried the soap spray and a seaweed spray but they didn't seem to work. Maybe I will invest in some of these live eaters!

  10. I have never seen one so small; they are one of those
    insects I donโ€™t mind there is something almost noble about them although I seem
    to remember them in an old B-movie about a giant praying mantis attacking a
    small town after getting involved with some radioactive goo.

    May be you can get some goo and get yours to grow a bit
    bigger?

  11. LOL – I will try to keep the lid tight on my container of radioactive goo!! I would not like to be responsible for a mantis invasion of the White House (although …!)

  12. Ok – your photos are gorgeous. I still think mine is slightly smaller ….. I will be out with my magnifying glass on the w/end looking for larvae! LOL.

  13. I think I might need more than this little mantis to eat all the aphids I have. I really am seriously thinking about buying some …. just my luck they would hatch and then move next door! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I've never seen manti so small –excepting some freshly-hatched– and your photos are excellent! Those PowerShots are great little cameras and you've a good eye and steady hand. Thanks for the one with the finger tip, by the way, as it gives a real sense of scale. Otherwise your mantis would look to be the same size as some of the "big-uns" I've seen over the years. Lovely, beneficial insect but a little creepy the way they they move their heads, isn't it? — JG

  15. Yes – some of them can apparently turn their heads 360 degrees! (I think I read somewhere that it is the only creature that can do this). This evening when I went to water the plants it was still sitting in the same little bay tree seedling. I am sure it is getting plenty to eat there!! I hope I see it moult and get a bit bigger before it runs out of bugs.

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