The Figeater and the California Mantis: Drama on the Butterfly Bush
Location: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
August 17, 2015, 6:30 PM
It has been a hot couple of days in Los Angeles, and our editorial staff has been staying indoors to beat the heat, and we have been reserving the late afternoon and twilight hours for doing yardwork. A Figeater was noisily circling the yard and it landed on a magenta Buddleia, so we moved in closer to see if it was eating nectar, and as its bulky weight caused the flower stalk to bob up and down, we spotted a stick moving and we couldn’t help but to wonder what a Walkingstick was doing on the plant. A closer inspection revealed an immature green California Mantis almost three inches long carefully scrutinizing the Figeater, trying to determine if it would be a good meal. We knew immediately that the Mantis would not be able to capture the large, heavy beetle, but we thought it was photo worthy anyways, with the two pretty green insects on the magenta blossom, but alas, when we tried to download the images, the card was blank, mysteriously erased, possibly through a camera malfunction or perhaps a computer glitch. So while you won’t be seeing the image, we thought you might enjoy the account of the sighting.
Yesterday we trimmed the guajes trees because we didn’t want all the dried seed pods to drop to the ground and we found two immature California Mantids, just under two inches long, one green and one brown, living in the branches. We relocated them and we noticed that they had grown considerably larger than the little guy we took some images of last month. We have seen more little mantids this year than we ever remember seeing, so our Southern California drought is not negatively affecting the population in our garden. After trimming the branches we placed them in the green bin with the lid open in the event any other Mantids were camouflaged among the leaves so that they can find their way to freedom.
Subject: Your lost image
Location: South Pasadena
August 17, 2015 10:55 pm
I saw your post about your lost image, and it reminded me of this picture I got in 2011. They seemed not to notice one another. It was a big rose.
Thanks so much for sending in your image to replace our own lost image. You mentioned they did not seem to notice one another. In our case, the Mantis appeared to be stalking the Figeater, but it never struck, perhaps sensing that the Figeater was too large. We have added your letter and image to the original posting we made rather than to make a unique posting.