Subject: Unusual bug near swimming pool
Geographic location of the bug: Long Beach CA
Time: 03:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi there,
I was picking up leaves on concrete near our pool and I found this beautiful insect, who almost looked like another leaf or flower.
Thanks for any ideas as to his or her identity.
How you want your letter signed: Moira
This is a decapitated Preying Mantis, and it appears to have been a male. It might be a male European Mantis, which is pictured on BugGuide. We can’t think of any real predators (eliminating house cats that do not generally need to hunt to survive) that would eat the head and leave the more nourishing and palatable body behind. There is much documentary evidence of a female Mantis eating the head of a male that is mating with her. Though his head is gone, he still goes through the mechanical actions of mating as pictured in this image from our archives of mating Mantids.
There is no need to feel bad about what happened to the male Mantid. Since this happens so frequently, it must be advantageous to the survival of the species.
I am amazed by nature. I’ll try to stop feeling bad about this one’s curtain call. As you told me, that’s normal behavior for this species. At least its children had an advantage getting started in life.