Thursday, October 13, 2011

Carnage in the Yard

Spying a small male praying mantis and a large female nearby, I decided to observe their behavior while sorting oxalis corms. The male crept closer to the female, but I missed the moment when they began copulating.

No sooner was the act concluded than the female attacked the male's head. I realized I was seeing proof of a disputed tale that the female cannibalizes the male after sex.

The female began dragging the still-writhing male away.

A tete-a-tete of the worst kind.

Here the female uses her powerful forelegs to grip the carcass.

Somehow she uses her skinny back legs to keep dragging the male along.

The female grasps a wing.

The hapless male is going to be devoured bit by bit.

The female detached the male's legs and nibbled them like strands of spaghetti.

The wing structure of the male was revealed as he was dragged around by the female.

The mandibles of the praying mantis are scary-looking in action.

My camera's battery failed before the denouement of this encounter.

This saga precedes the formation of an egg case that will be attached to a twig to winter over in the garden. The female dies, and in the spring dozens of tiny mantids emerge from the egg case. Only a few make it through the summer and as we see, the males take part in reproduction at their own risk.

Much has been written on whether female mantids actually kill their mates, but in a back yard on Block 832 Tuesday I saw the evidence that it happens. And now so have you.



  1. Wow! First, news on sex crimes, then news on 4 out 5 teens using a condom for their first sex encounter, now rough sexual animal reproduction, gee! One can tell the moon is full! Great pictures though. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Holy Toledo, Bernice. Aside from the carnage you witnessed, this is a great set of photos, worthy of the Audubon Guide!


  3. Wonderful photos!! Nature photogs wait years to capture such a sequence. Kudos for having your camera handy and ready!

  4. ZOMG! Mom, you should put these in a nature book!

  5. WOW,I wish the battery would have lasted for the whole event. Amazing coverage that I dont recall ever seeing, even on Nat Geo. Thanks!

  6. I must repeat what the others said ... WOW! Fantastic shots! You should submit the photos to or bug guide!

  7. Sex and violence -- some people will do anything for readership ;-)

  8. Are you sure you're not talking about Plainfield. The Democratic machine, mayor, devouring the town for all its resources, hospital & taxes and leaving a dead carcase after there're done? Just saying!