Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Giant Indian Mantid for company

As I write this, I keep glancing outside at the verandah. About 20 minutes ago, I discovered amongst my innocuous garden plants, a Giant Indian Mantid!!

She is all of 6-inches long, and she's at least an inch wide. This is the biggest insect I have ever seen in my life!

And frankly, this is hardly sort of thing you'd expect on the 14th floor of a city condominium. How did she even GET here?

Can you spot her? She's good at hiding, you know?

Anyway, I ran for my camera, before she moved. She gave me her best praying pose. I clicked and clicked and *swore* at the poor quality of the photos. But here's one of them anyway. It does no justice to the utterly gorgeous creature in front of me, but at least you can see something of her (click on it for a larger view).

Did I say gorgeous? Yep. She is gorgeous.
Check out those spiked forelegs (they're called "raptorial" legs, used to hold prey!)

Yeah, yeah, I know they're related to cockroaches. But this one is a beaut. And she's huge. I can't tear my eyes away. They're cannibalistic, you know? You can't put two mantids together in the same area, or before you know it, you have just one of them!

And the females eat the males during mating, like some species of spiders. There are photos here, go on, click here, it's fascinating!

How do I know this one in the photo is female? Because she has 6 segments to her abdomen, the males have 8. I wonder how long it's been since this one ate her last mate. :D

I'm still watching her. She's moved to the underside of the leaf now. She hiding, waiting for the next unwary insect to come buzzing by. Snap! Crackle! And the lady will feast.

7 comments:

Pramod said...

Wow awesome ! I didn't know either that the family word was "mantid"

Roopa said...

: ) Very interesting.

Aadil said...

Isn't it called Praying Mantis?

Deepa Krishnan said...

Yes, it's also called that.
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/362942/mantid

kiran srivastava said...

That sure is a huge mantid. I think female mantids have smaller wings too.

I once kept a female mantid for a couple weeks at home. She landed on our balcony railing on the 17th floor in Mumbai. There are a couple of parks nearby so she must have come from there. in the evenings she had full freedom of the bed where she roamed much to the annoyance and disgust of my wife. I fed her roaches and insects caught in the afore-mentioned parks. As I had to leave for Delhi on work I gave her to the late Naresh Chaturvedi of the BNHS, who later told me she died immediately after laying her ootheca (egg case). She hadn't been fertilised by a male but strong maternal or genetic instinct made her lay eggs.
cheers,
kiran srivastava
mumbai

Anonymous said...

Matchless topic, it is interesting to me))))

Seethalakshmi Karthik said...

Hi Deepa,
Your Blogs were awesome .....i Quite enjoyed reading them :)