Legends are made of this…

Praying mantis with prey
mantis eating
Photo by Josch13 from Pixabay

… and the firelight reflected in flickers on the brown focused face in the chill of the night. The series of clicks rattling with varying levels of excitement as the San story teller passed the legends to the next generation. A child gasped from within the story as an adult smiled and glanced around to see how deeply the rest of the audience was caught up, momentarily distancing himself to keep a foot in reality.

…and the mantis who was tired of eating his food like the leopard followed the ostrich to see why his food always smelt better. The ostrich lifted his wing and released some of the fire he kept hidden there and aimed it at his dinner. In a short time it was done and the wonderful aroma filled the air. It was then that mantis decided he wanted to have some of the fire.

The next morning mantis befriended the ostrich and they walked for a while until mantis pointed out a particular tree with a lot of tasty ripe fruit and suggested ostrich, being taller, should reach up and get some fruit for their lunch.

This the ostrich politely did and Mantis encouraged him to reach higher into the tree as that was where the best fruit was according to our recent expert in the subject matter. Each time the ostrich reached up a flash of light showed from the fire under his wing.

“You are almost there” exclaimed mantis.

“Here, step on this rock and surely you will reach it”.

Ostrich stepped on the rock that wobbled beneath his weight and mantis gave a little push from the side causing ostrich to lose his balance. Ostrich spread his wings for a moment to regain his balance and mantis snatched some of the fire and ran away.

Since that day ostrich has never flown, always keeping his wing down, covering the remaining fire and the San bushman now have fire.

The Praying Mantis is an awesome little creature that played a big part in the San bushman’s beliefs.

Praying mantis
praying mantis eyes
Photo by Josch13 from Pixabay

The Mantis stalks its prey and when it pounces, it does so with great speed and accuracy. The mantis can jump in the blink of an eye and its prey is swiftly dispatched by means of a powerful punch or pinned down with its long arms. A praying mantis is capable of catching prey up to three times its own size, even catching little hummingbirds or frogs!

Praying Mantis’s are mostly green or brown but some varieties look like the flowers they frequent. When the mantis molts it can change color to some degree but this is very limited.

A mantis is capable of turning its triangular head 180 degrees giving it a superb vantage point. combine this with the two large compound eyes that detect movement as well as the three smaller eyes situated in the middle of its head that detect light.

There is also research going on in the area of praying mantis’s ability to see in 3D.

As far as breeding goes, the female sometimes eats her partner and lays up to 400 eggs in a frothy foam which encases them. Together, this combination is termed an ootheca.

baby praying mantis
hatching praying mantis
nymphs hatching
photo by Annette Meyer from pixabay

The wingless babies hatch in spring and are termed nymphs. They take about an hour to dry and then they wander off to start their lives. Their diet will consist of small flies, gnats or any other small insects.

The legend continues….