Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Technical whine and an off topic post

I realise I have been quiet recently- it's not my fault, it's the blasted world of blasted high tech gadgetry. I had a post all written up and looking wonderful but try as I may I just can not get the video that I want to add in to load up. It's one that I made myself on my spanking new shiny camera but for some unknown reason Panasonic uses Quicktime files which means that I can not edit or alter the video on my PC because like most other people in this world I have Windows Movie Maker and a bank balance that doesn't let me spring for anything I may happen to want, whenever I want it. My only other option as far as I can see is to load it into YouTube but I'm a bit reluctant to go down that route. I tried Flickr but they only take 90 second videos and mine is waaaaaaay too long- and I can't cut it down because I don't have the right program. Grrrr, frustration.

This all kinda spoils the post that I was going to put up :(
But I'm going to go ahead anyway as I do at least have some stills that I can show you. It's not nearly as impressive this way and the cuteness factor for most people will plummet way, way down but I can't not share it. I still think it's fun.
So what is all the hype about? Well, I managed to get a video of some praying mantis nymphs emerging from an ootheca that I'm looking after (raspberries to all you who live in the tropics, we don't have mantids here so this is still exciting to me). The pictures (and video) are a little blurry as I had to film through the lid of the tub that they are being kept in- don't want tiny mantids every where after all. I was delighted to find that the nymphs are a delicate pink as they emerge- the black one that you can sorta see in the background of one shot is a bit older. The nymphs darken after a couple of hours. They pretty much hit the ground running though and are ready to take on small prey items such a fruit flies (which they have been scoffing ever since).

The photo above shows how the nymphs all emerge from the central spine of the ootheca. Normally it would be fixed to a trunk or tree branch and the nymphs would drop from the the oothca. In this case they had to fight a bit of kitchen roll as well. I wasn't prepared for them to start emerging when they did and by the time I got to them it was too late.

The most interesting bit for me was seeing how the legs are held straight alongside the body right until the very last second and then they just pop out and the mantid scuttles away. They look like tiny little pink worms or shrimp as they wriggle back and forth- all of the 'pull' to get the body out of the ootheca seems to come from muscle and fluid movement rather than them gripping something and literally pulling themselves out.
This is something that I did know from reading text books and so on but to see it for myself happening in real time (and for the first time) was really something special. It's amazing how much better my understanding of the process is now that I have some first hand experience. I also have to say that 'baby' mantids are really quite despicably cute. These guys are about 4 days old now and no more than a centimetre long but they act just like adults, being both tenacious and professional in their pursuit of prey whilst still being nothing more than a little wisp of a bug.


  1. Wow, that's really cool. But I do feel kind of creepy-crawly now.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I wish I could see the video. It must have been awesome to watch...but now I'm craving shrimp scampi.

  3. VERY cool. We have mantids up in the North East US, but they're very rare. So seeing this for me is really cool, since I've only seen like, 5 real mantids in my life, and they were all adults. Thanks for sharing! =D