Monday, October 21, 2013

Best Lunch Hour Ever

Early in October, summer breathed—or perhaps exhaled—a steamy last gasp in DC, with temperatures reaching almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

All the invertebrate life of the city, which had slowed down during the dry and chill September, was out in force.

As I often do, I decided to talk a lunchtime walk with my camera to see what I could see.

I was admiring a garden-full of hollyhocks when I noticed a surprising visitor on one of the flowers.

It was a praying mantis!

This is an insect that, ever since I got my macro lens, I’d been dying to see but had not yet spotted.

Thrilled as I was, I spent a good half an hour in the midday sun getting moderate heat-stroke and taking picture after picture of the insect as she (we’ll say "she") navigated her way along the stems and flowers of the hollyhocks.

I won’t dwell on the behavior of mantids (though see my post, “You’re never too old to learn about sexual cannibalism” for more on that topic), but I will say that I had never before realized how mantids combine elegance with a sort of scissory, alien awkwardness in their movements.

I also hadn’t realized, though I should have, how very aware these predators are of another’s gaze. While the mantis seemed only occasionally cautious of me, she kept her eye on my camera and me quite regularly—resulting in some fun photos.

In fact, I think the best indication of the effectiveness of the pictures and the insect was the observation of a friend to whom I emailed a photo, who wrote:

“That scared me. I like it.”

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

What eloquent looks! "Threat or biiiig meal?"

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Precisely! I'm pretty sure she was sizing me up.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Growing up in Philly, I used to see these on occasiona but very rarely in the last forty years. Her delicacy amazes me.

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