Saturday, June 20, 2020

Praying mantises shown catching birds

It's hard to imagine, but there is now lots of evidence that praying mantises catch and eat small birds as well as other insects. There is something rather disturbing when the natural order is reversed and insects start eating birds.
Some 12 species of mantis in 13 different countries covering every continent have been seen in this activitity. In the USA, the majority are European and Chinese mantises that were originally used for pest control, but now hang out at suburban hummingbird feeders laying in wait for unwary hummingbirds.
In fact, hummingbirds seem to be the preferred prey, presumably for their size (and notwithstanding their great speed), with the ruby-throated hummingbird being a particular favourite. But these birds are still substantially bigger and heavier than the mantises, and it's extraordinary that the insects are able to hold on to their prey.
Maybe we should now be calling them preying mantises.

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