Praying for Dinner
August 12, 2005 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I, for one, welcome our hummingbird-eating mantis overlords.
posted by mr_crash_davis (48 comments total)
Wow. That makes me both sad and happy. And I don't know why.
posted by tkchrist at 3:56 PM on August 12, 2005

Mantis are the evilest of all creatures, ok after snakes.
posted by riffola at 4:02 PM on August 12, 2005

I just bought a bunch of mantis eggs and released them in the garden (they're supposed to eat bad bugs). eek.
posted by mathowie at 4:04 PM on August 12, 2005

We found one walking down a city sidewalk one hot Philly summer night. These things are huge. I don't doubt one of them could take out a bird.
posted by Rothko at 4:08 PM on August 12, 2005

That's incredible.
posted by gramschmidt at 4:10 PM on August 12, 2005

bloody awesome link. bloody tired catchphrase.
posted by plexiwatt at 4:13 PM on August 12, 2005

That is awesome, do not mess with the Praying Mantis, any creature that eats its mate right after sex is waaaaay too tough.

The Praying Mantis is the God of the San (you used to call them Bushmen) people of southern Africa. A truly excellent book on the subject is A Mantis Carol by Laurens van der Post.
posted by fenriq at 4:17 PM on August 12, 2005

I had no idea these things got that large. All the ones I've ever dealt with (here in NC) are about an inch or two long.
posted by odinsdream at 4:17 PM on August 12, 2005

I would love to see video of how a praying mantis catches a hummer, though I'm guessing the hummer was all aggressive and got a bit too close. Hummers can be bold little suckers; they'll get in our face sometimes when we're on the balcony outside our apartment.

Anybody know what species that is?
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:24 PM on August 12, 2005

If they didn't mate, the hummingbird should be fine.
posted by maxsparber at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2005

What species of mantis is it? It's a freaking EVIL, HIDEOUS, DISGUSTING, NIGHTMARE-INDUCING, DEMON-SPAWN OF HELL species!

Good lord...the most monstrous-looking creatures on the planet. I'm rather amazed at this story, though -- didn't quite realize that the mantis was so dammed strong.
posted by davidmsc at 4:31 PM on August 12, 2005

Getting masticated to death by an insect is one crappy way to die. Or glorious, depending on your persuasion.
posted by recurve at 4:31 PM on August 12, 2005

I had no idea mantids got that big, either. Gatta love them, though - the female of the species is more deadlier than the male.

And since when did people start calling hummingbirds "hummers"?
posted by Moral Animal at 4:33 PM on August 12, 2005

A few years at least. I had a birdfeeder catalog delivered once that exhorted me to


Which caused no end of mirth around the Xenophobe house.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:42 PM on August 12, 2005

Yet another example of the power of prayer.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2005

It's a proven fact: A large enough mantis can rip your heart out and show it to you before you die.
posted by mullingitover at 4:51 PM on August 12, 2005

Japanese Hornet vs Praying Mantis

Which one walks (or flies) away?
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:01 PM on August 12, 2005

Mantids aren't just awesome, they're beautiful, too.
posted by vira at 5:06 PM on August 12, 2005

I'd say praying mantis over Japanese hornet. In high school in the fall of my freshman year, we found a praying mantis that we caught and set up in a cage in biology class. Daily, we would bring in the most dangerous live food we could find. Honey bees? No sweat. She chewed through them like candy. Paper wasps? Easy. Yellow jackets? No challenge, even though fall is when they notoriously short-tempered. We'd put in 4 at a time.

The advantage is that a praying mantis can go from looking like a set of twigs to killing machine faster than its prey can react.

When we caught a male praying mantis, we found out what happens when the female is faster. He tried to mount, but never quite made it.
posted by plinth at 5:13 PM on August 12, 2005

I wonder if Prayind Mantises can scale up, or if the surface area/volume ratio limit isn't robust in this particular exoskeletal system...

Thanks for the link UseyurBrain. Now I've got yet another critter that I want to eat =)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 5:24 PM on August 12, 2005

my jaw dropped to the floor when i saw that post on boing boing. i thought it was great that the kid was there with his handy camera to snap up the picture proof.
posted by rabbitmoon at 5:25 PM on August 12, 2005

When I was 5, I accidentally sat on a bee's nest, and was stung numerous times. After reading this bit (...)a hornet two inches long and with a wingspan up to three inches(...) The voracious predator has a quarter-inch stinger that pumps out a dose of venom with an enzyme so strong it can dissolve human tissue., I'll admit to getting a little sphincter-clenching freak on. Nice. Urg.
Mantises (correct plural?) are beautiful, and weird enough to be scary, especially when they're big.
posted by Zack_Replica at 5:26 PM on August 12, 2005

holy SHIT. That mantis is AWESOME.

I am seriously not kidding when I say that this mantis is absolutely my hero for like the next 48 hours.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:34 PM on August 12, 2005

Not as bad as this one from my youth.
posted by mss at 5:38 PM on August 12, 2005

i don't belive this at all.
posted by spunk at 5:52 PM on August 12, 2005

Actually, I always thought the female Mantis ate the male's head during mating, and he completed the act headless.

Sex without head? Perish the thought!
posted by sourwookie at 5:52 PM on August 12, 2005

I was taking a photo of a mantis and the f*cker reared back and jumped on my face Alien-Style. They fear nothing. They ARE the shadow of death.
posted by hal9k at 6:58 PM on August 12, 2005

I never thought they were praying. They always looked like they were practicing kung fu. Come to think of it, there is a style of kung fu inspired by the little monsters.
posted by maxsparber at 7:28 PM on August 12, 2005

Oh no, someone call Space Ghost!

(Random ultrageek reference for today: check!)
posted by JHarris at 7:32 PM on August 12, 2005

Amazing fliers, it's not all sweetness and light for hummingbirds. They live fast and die young facing Mantids and other fearsome predators like the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider.

Considering the small size of most hummers, running into one of these little arachnids is like Frodo vs. Shelob.
posted by cenoxo at 7:55 PM on August 12, 2005

Hell, if I'm feeling peckish, I'll munch on a few hummingbird's. They are a delightful snack.
posted by maxsparber at 8:03 PM on August 12, 2005

I can't believe I just misused an apostrophe to indicate a plural.
posted by maxsparber at 8:12 PM on August 12, 2005

Mantids are predators, but does that make them evil? If we follow the same line of thought, then aren't all non-vegetarians just as evil as they are? Thanks. I'll take my answer off the air.
posted by stevis at 9:02 PM on August 12, 2005

Wow, mantises who spear hummers, hornets that disolve human tissue, and goliath bird eating spiders. If these guys teamed up, humans would be in some major trouble.
posted by parallax7d at 9:04 PM on August 12, 2005

The Goliath bird-eating spiders are considered to be very aggressive and do not make good pets.

Um. Yeah. Wasn't really planning on it anyway.
posted by Chanther at 9:28 PM on August 12, 2005

If these guys teamed up, humans would be in some major trouble.
Watch out for the man-eating ningaui.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:30 PM on August 12, 2005

I think mantises are kind of cute, and this was all cool til someone brought the giant, creepy-ass bird eating spider into it. That's so not cool.
Spiders are freaking scary - beautiful and wonderful,
but still scary.
(They eat me every night. I'm a spider nutritional renewable resource!)
posted by zerokey at 12:41 AM on August 13, 2005

And so ended the dominance of the vertibrates.
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:05 AM on August 13, 2005

"They fear nothing"

posted by Reverend Mykeru at 6:47 AM on August 13, 2005

Woah. Do you think I could populate my backyard with these suckers? Plenty of annoying insects for them to kill up here in Maine, but I fear the cold might kill them.

Praying Mantises rule.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:04 AM on August 13, 2005

Thanks Reverend M - great photo!

"Wow, mantises who spear hummers, hornets that disolve human tissue, and goliath bird eating spiders. If these guys teamed up, humans would be in some major trouble."

I'm seeing a new Saturday morning cartoon here. They could attack dastardly humans who are destroying their ecosystems! Kids would LOVE giant insect heroes!
posted by RelentlesslyOptimistic at 7:48 AM on August 13, 2005

Something nobody's mentioned here and just in case you didn't know, while mantises are fearsome and fearless predators, they are perfectly harmless to humans. They don't sting, bite or spear people. There is no reason whatsoever to fear them. They are fascinating creatures that are very easy to capture and hold.
posted by wsg at 9:04 AM on August 13, 2005

"there is a style of kung fu inspired by the little monsters"

Good kung fu link there. There's at least four or five kung fu movie plots lurking in the history section.

They talk about the "mantis steals the peach" technique, which I suspect is similar to the "monkey steals the peach". This is a windmilling Iron Hand strike delivered to the groin area, follow by a clutch-and-grab, yanking the grasped "peaches" back to the hip, effectively ripping away the genitals resulting in massive blood loss and death.

I think i'd rather be skewered through the chest by a giant mantis, thanks.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 10:33 AM on August 13, 2005

"The largest mantis is Toxodera denticulata with a 20 cm body." That's 7.87 inches for us Yanks. I've seen a couple almost that size in Florida. They aren't very good flyers and their wings make a hell of a racket. They aren't going to sneak up on you.

Some of the biggest ones are scary ugly.
posted by JParker at 10:55 AM on August 13, 2005

If I saw on of those, it would be me who was praying.
posted by maxsparber at 11:08 AM on August 13, 2005

If you were that hummingbird, here's the last thing you would have seen alive.

It's a giant animatronic mantis in the Backyard Monsters touring exhibit, currently at the San Diego Natural History Museum. We saw BM several years ago, and it's impressive. Grab the kids and go!
posted by cenoxo at 11:59 AM on August 13, 2005

When I was in the fourth grade, I came back in from recess one day and sat down. All of a sudden I felt something crawling up my leg inside my pants; I jumped out of my seat and started smacking my leg and shaking it. A mashed-up, twitching mantis fell out, and I instinctively stomped on it real good. I was kind of in shock, but I just sat back down, like hey, no biggie, freakin' huge bug just fell out of my pants, happens all the time.

But actually mantises are pretty cool, as are the similarly weird walking sticks and katydids.
posted by Bron at 2:36 PM on August 13, 2005

posted by nthdegx at 9:41 AM on August 14, 2005

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