Where we live there are still lots of Praying Mantis around even though we are in November.

Did you know, these very exotic looking insects have triangular heads which can turn 180 degrees, like humans, large eyes AND they can fly!

Here’s another interesting fact – they only have one ear, and you will never guess where it is. It is on the underside of their belly in front of its back legs. The ear detects ultrasound, which is the sound that bats make, this is very handy since bats are predators of mantis and try and catch them in flight.

They got the name praying mantis because when they are waiting for their prey they hold their front legs like they are saying their prayers – but beware they are not!

They are normally green but we have also seen sandy and brown coloured ones at Fantasy Farm.

They eat other insects and catch them with their front legs which have spikes on them. The spikes close in such a way as to enable the mantis to get a very firm grip on their prey whilst they eat them alive!

For those of you with a strong stomach, this rather gory video shows a praying mantis catching flies.

Toby was very worried when he saw this one as a puppy.

The mantis was sitting on the underside of our tractor and gave my husband a nip when he ‘rescued’ it. You can find out more about the praying mantis encounter in the first Toby’s Tails book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Tails-Fantasy-Farm-Tales-ebook/dp/B00ZG6O874/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1510160886&sr=8-3&keywords=toby%27s+tails 

The male praying mantis attracts the female with a courtship dance.

Even so, sometimes the female really does eat him after they have mated.

The female lays her eggs in a protective case which looks like brown foam.

The cases are called ootheca and contain between 20 – 400 young mantis, so watch out if you bring them in doors you could be overrun with tiny mantis! If you want to see them hatch, perhaps it would be better to watch this YouTube video instead.

You can find out about all kinds of wild animals, birds, and creatures, as well as enjoy the adventures of Toby and friends in the Toby’s Tails series of children’s books on the home page http://www.tobys-tails.com/


Bye for now Susan and Toby


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