Sweet Hour of Preyer

It’s just another mint patch, right? Except for that big leaf on the left–a leaf with six legs and antennae.  This must be a praying mantis.

Its head follows me as I walk from one side to another.

Then it nonchalantly bites its fingernails, or maybe cleans them.  But these hands look more like Venus fly traps.

Then it goes back to what it was doing: snacking on blue-bottle flies.

First the wind-up.  It leans way back, putting its weight on the back legs.  This is exactly what you do in karate before throwing a punch or a kick: put about two-thirds of your weight on the back foot.  Then it telegraphs its move as the front feet move slowly forward.  Finally the pounce–with both front paws.  I have a great video of this that doesn’t show too much gore and will put it up as soon as I’m at a server that allows streaming content. [The video is now here.]

These next few photos have a large ewww factor.  If you’re at all squeamish about flies, you might want to skip to the end.

The creature seems to be left handed. Although it pounces and crushes with both paws, I watched it eat several flies, and it always used the left one for eating.

Then it turns around to look at me, as if to say, “See how it’s done?”

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