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Seconds From Disaster

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posted by Matt Buckingham alias Matt Buckingham on Tuesday 23rd of October 2018 12:41:39 AM

A Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) stalks a Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens). This photo has quite a long story behind it. A week or so ago I received a call from my wife that she had found a recently hit Gray Fox next to the road. Being the eccentric biologist types, we decided that we wanted to try to get its skeleton for study and admiration. So we called our friends James and Erin Childress, who own a large tract of land, and asked if we could set it out there to decompose. Being a couple of biologists themselves, they gladly agreed and we loaded the fox carcass in the bed of my truck and set out on the half-hour or so journey to their farm. Just after we arrived, I heard my wife call out, "Look at this!" No surprise really, as she has an uncanny talent for spotting creatures, plants, and any other thing that remains invisible to most. She had found a large adult female Carolina Mantis, hiding among the goldenrod blooms near the Childress cabin. Of course, in our haste to make our morbid delivery I had forgotten my camera. Fortunately James was kind enough to lend me his. We approached the scene and I tried to formulate a plan on how to best photograph this spectacular insect. As we drew near we noticed the carcasses of bumble bees scattered about the ground, dismembered and drained of their juices. Oblivious to the danger, there were several more bees nectaring on the goldenrod just inches from the mantis. So I found a good angle and waited to see if I might capture some action. I set the lens on a bee that was slowly creeping closer and closer to this devourer of pollinators. The bee brushed against the mantis's leg, yet still the predator remained still. Its head slowly cocked and it's antennae twitched ever so slightly. Deliberately and methodically it crept toward the ravenous bumble bee. Its movements were almost imperceptible. I captured this image as it zeroed in on the bee and prepared its strike. Seconds after I captured this image the mantis did strike, though I only managed to record a blur of green. It missed, and the bee flew to a distant part of the same plant to continue feeding. Later we would see the mantis in the middle of devouring another unfortunate Bombus impatiens, though we missed the strike. In all it would seem that this ruthless hunter his doing quite well on the goldenrod she has staked claim to. James has confirmed that she is still in the same spot, fat and happy, over a week later.



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  • Published 10.05.22
  • Resolution 770x1024
  • Image type jpg
  • File Size 243951 byte.

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