Mantises of Gabon

Stealthy, quick, and deadly. Were I a tiny insect, these mantises would be my worst nightmare. After lying in wait and slowly approaching their prey, a mantis can strike in just hundredths of a second, ten times faster than the blink of an eye.

The two mantises I found in Gabon captivated me. Pictured below, the stunningly bold yellow and black patterns seemed a warning to all, and I wondered what camouflage it provided. Perhaps it does not blend in so much as confuse the body shape to prey to prevent the prey from being spooked and fleeing. There are some incredibly impressive examples of camouflage in the Mantidae family. Pictured above, the inch-long, green youngling caught an impossibly small fly while I observed it. From the time they hatch from a nest containing dozens of eggs, mantises are fierce predators.

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For some mantis action, view the slow motion video from BBC.

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