Monday 16 April 2012: Special Eyes Specialise
Praying mantis, Orthodera novaezealandiae. Best seen large.
The eyes of the praying mantis fascinate me. When I am trying to take macro shots the dark spots track the camera lens, even when I can almost circle the insect. The head does not move. The ability to do this is a great advantage for an insect that relies on remaining perfectly still, waiting for prey to come within reach. The eyes are set wide apart to give good depth perception. This is necessary for the deadly accuracy when the usually folded fore legs make a grab at unsuspecting prey. The mantis also has three smaller eyes, two of which can be seen in this shot.
The mantis normally walks and stands on its four rear legs while keeping the front ones folded, ready to grab. Here it is using the front legs to climb. The upper segments are powerful and have claws to hold the prey. I am surprised to see how long and thin the lower parts of the legs are. They must fold up very neatly out of sight when the legs are in the "praying" position.