Praying Mantis vs. Bumblebee

The Butterfly Bush outside the living room continues to attract flying insects, but, with the arrival of this year’s bumper crop of Praying Mantises, it has become something of a killing field.

If I hadn’t seen this, I wouldn’t have believed it:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - grapple
Mantis vs Bumblebee – grapple

Perhaps grabbing the bumblebee at the tip of the abdomen neutralizes the sting, but I only saw the flash of motion, not the actual capture.

The mantis changed her (?) grip several times while removing various accessories:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - disassembly
Mantis vs Bumblebee – disassembly

Although a bee’s leg may not seem edible, she chewed through them like Pocky.

Minus most of the bits and pieces, serious eating commenced:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - lunch
Mantis vs Bumblebee – lunch

Having watched several insects go through this process, the mantis proceeds from the head downward, eventually squeezing the abdomen like a tube of toothpaste.

A mantis can eat a bumblebee in about twenty minutes, from capture to discarding the empty husk. After a few minutes of body maintenance, ranging from leg cleaning to eye scraping, she begins waiting for the next meal to arrive …

  1. #1 by Keith Ward on 2019-09-29 - 08:48

    It is a pretty amazing process to watch. Looking somewhat dainty, they do eat like a self-feeding chipper/shredder. But unfortunately they are pretty clunky otherwise as pilots and that’s when they themselves get taken out by the next level up on the food chain, birds.

    • #2 by Ed on 2019-09-30 - 08:16

      I didn’t realize the wing covers acted as stiff wings until I saw one buzzing away from a bush. Sort of like a turkey: a mantis can fly, but it’d rather not.

  2. #3 by madbodger on 2019-09-29 - 09:58

    I saw one eating a cricket, which kicked her in the eye. She simply snipped off the offending leg and kept eating. They’re pretty efficient and goal-oriented.

  3. #4 by Jason Doege on 2019-09-29 - 10:08

    That’s weird. We are seeing a lot of praying mantises in Austin, TX, too.

    • #5 by Ed on 2019-09-30 - 08:15

      Science!

      Mary counts winter birds for Feederwatch and their accumulated results sometimes show particular species irrupting all over.

      Maybe this is the year the mantis population increased by an order of magnitude, except nobody noticed?

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