Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A Privet Full of Praying Mantises

Ever since I found my first praying mantis laying her eggs on one of my trees two summers ago, I've been hoping against hope that enough of them would move in to rid me of some of the pests that are an inescapable part of any bonsai grower's life.

Of course that's wishful thinking. It would require a huge army of these tiny carnivores to do that!

Still, I enjoy seeing them on my trees and having witnessed the eggs being laid and hatching as well as the sad death of the babies, murdered by ants, I'm hoping I'll one day have the privilege of seeing the mating process too.

After finding three of them on the same tree I thought yesterday might be the day, but every time I looked they were keeping their distance from each other.

While I waited (in vain), I decided to take some photos.

Shooting one was easy but I knew that it would take a little coaxing on my part to get them all into the same photo. Fortunately I've observed that they will usually climb to the top of the tree if I spray water on it. So that's what I did.

My first attempt brought two together and I thought things were about to get interesting when one jumped onto another, but the second one wasn't interested and moved to a safe distance. Perhaps they were both the same gender.

For a while, however, they stayed near enough for me to get a few close-ups.

Finally a second spray of water brought the third one out of hiding and I was able to capture all three in the same shot.

I haven't seen them today. I haven't watered yet though, so they may put in an appearance later.

When last I saw them one had moved to the olive tree next door. I hope by now the others have moved on too because my Privet is in desperate need of pruning.

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