Playing Hide and Seek with A Praying Mantis (Mantis Religiosa)

While sitting out on our lanai on the 8th floor at the Wailea Marriott Resort overlooking the ocean in Maui, I noticed a Praying Mantis, measuring approximately five inches long. It had positioned itself upside down on the handrail of the glass enclosure like a shadow of itself. It was sitting as still as a Buddhist monk in meditation. I got closer to photograph it. Its’ patience and one pointed focus was amazing. Though sitting motionless, it slowly turned its alien like head keeping me directly in its’ gaze. The praying hands of a Praying Mantis have little to do with religiosity, and more to do with the rows of sharp spines at the end of its front legs that shoot out to grasp its’ prey (tiny insects). 

I expected this interesting looking creature to be gone by morning. But, there it sat, this time right side up on a ledge below focusing on obtaining its next meal just like our primitive ancestors who roamed the Earth.

These amazing creatures are known to detect movement from 60 feet away and its head can turn 360 degrees like Linda Blair in the exorcist:-). There are 22,000 species in the world. In all the years we have been coming to Maui I never saw one up so close and personal. I remember as a young kid seeing one on the sidewalk in my home town of Hoboken, NJ. I have to admit being a bit frightened by it as I had never seen anything like it before. The rumor is the Praying Mantis was a protected insect and if killed carried a $50 fine. Though considered a beneficial insect, the rumor proved false. They are usually born in the spring and have a short life span—living only one season. The female praying mantis has earned a reputation of being a cannibalistic femme fatale. Men think fatal attraction here! She lures males with her pheromones, and when one approaches, the prospective mate engages in a courtship dance. If the male mantis is deemed worthy he is allowed to mount the back of the larger female mantis and commence fertilization. At this point the female mantis begins chewing off her partner’s head (no joke), which increases the success and duration of copulation. Perhaps her next date will be wise to take her out to dinner and not be her dinner:-)