14 September 2008

bug life

Watching insects is fascinating to me. Their world, the way they conduct their lives, is so alien to the way of humans. They seem to have a different order of business than us -- efficient, clearly purposeful. A bee goes from flower to flower, industriously collecting pollen. A butterfly, another pollinator, flutters over the ocean waves, down the beach, migrating south to die.

This weekend we went out to my [boyfriend's] sister and brother-in-law's place on Long Island. I captured (on camera) two small creatures -- both predators -- going about their business.

Mr. Mantis
For all I know he was a she. But we'd seen he/she before in the very same spot a few months earlier. I'm not sure what his/her plan was perched on the deck railing, but clearly Mr./Ms. Mantis was comfortable there. He/she was at ease enough to pose for these pictures and didn't move from that spot for at least an hour.

I see you!

We didn't observe any particular industrious behavior from Mr./Ms. Mantis, but among the sea grass he/she was camouflaged rather well from the birds above.

Apparently, mantises have great vision for insects -- they're able to see movement up to 60 feet away. Though a few weeks ago I think we came across a vision-impaired mantis who threw itself in the path of a moving car (pop!). We thought he was in the clear when the first tire missed him, but nope, that second tire got him. It was a sad sight.

Mantises are said to be good for organic gardens, since they eat other insects.

Ms. Spider (aka, Wolf Spider, aka, Wolfmother)
I'm pretty confident of the sex of this creature. This is a female, and I believe it's a cross spider (Araneus diadematus). This particular lady likes to hide in the corner, tucked in the door frame, awaiting her prey. Her male partner hung out in plain sight of us humans, but at a safe distance from the female (the male sometimes gets eaten by the female).


Come to mama!

My bro-in-law likes to feed the spider he lovingly calls the Wolf Spider. This particular feeding included a moth appetizer followed by a cricket main course. The cricket tried to play possum, but it clearly didn't work.

She's a beauty