- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Ever seen a pregnant praying mantis?
Someone on wikianswers.com asked the question: "What does a pregnant praying mantis look like?"
The question drew only one response: "Big and fat."
Well, at least the answer wasn't "Big, old and fat!"
Praying mantids, known as ambush predators because they lie in wait for their prey, nail unsuspecting honey bees, sweat bees, flies, butterflies and assorted other insects. The female mantids, in particular, gorge as they prepare their bodies for egg laying.
Later this year or next spring, if you're lucky, you'll see an egg case hanging from a twig, leaf or fence. Depending on the species, each case contains about 100 to 200 mantises. When they emerge, they're so hungry that they'll eat one another. Brother and sister. Sister and brother. Cannibalism.
This morning this quite pregnant--and quite irritated--"lady in waiting" emerged from the shadows of a salvia at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
On a human hand, she appeared perfectly camouflaged.
Then, she climbed off and disappeared back into the salvia.