Posts Tagged ‘Tenodera sinensis’

Here’s a couple of looks at an enormous praying mantis that I photographed on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was walking towards the parking lot at the end of a day of shooting when I passed a couple of fellow photographers who asked me if I wanted to photograph a praying mantis. I think that praying mantises are pretty cool, so of course I was quite happy to have them show me where it was.

I had never seen such a large praying mantis—I estimate that this one was about 5 inches (127 mm) in length. It was a challenge to find a shooting angle that allowed me to get most of this insect’s long angular body in focus. However, the mantis was cooperative and stayed in place until I was able to get some shots that I liked.

I am pretty sure that this is a Chinese Praying Mantis (Tenodera sinensis), a non-native species that is much larger and more aggressive than the native species. I did a little research about mantises in the United States and apparently there are a variety of views about the degree to which the non-native species are “invasive,” i.e. that cause environmental harm.

When I posted a photograph on Facebook, several readers commented that it looked like “my” mantis was about ready to lay her eggs. I had not initially considered that possibility, but it certainly does look like the mantis has a swollen abdomen. Female mantises generally lay their eggs in the fall in a protective sac structure called a “ootheca” and then she dies. The nymphs hatch in the spring when the weather warms up again.

Nature is amazing!

Chinese Praying Mantis

Chinese Praying Mantis

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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