In two previous posts -- Seeing But Not Spotting and Macro Mothology -- I shared images of two different species of moth that showed up at night near the entrance to my apartment building.
Now I can add another insect type to my list: a praying mantis that decided to select a meal and dine by the same entrance the other night. The adjective "praying" describes the mantis because of the way it folds its front legs together, but as you can see from my images "preying" -- the spelling variation used by some people -- is more appropriate.
I had to use a tripod and relatively long exposures with the available light provided by a light bulb. Sometimes the mantis would sway and I would have to wait for it to stop or end up with a blur from the seconds-long exposure.
I assumed the rocking motion was due to a slight breeze but from a bit of research I discovered that movement might have been an example of crypsis, the insect trying to avoid detection by mimicking a plant swaying in the wind. Another theory is that the side-to-side movement is a simple way for the mantis to distinguish objects from the background.
Of course, the mantis is notorious for sexual cannibalism, the female eating the male during mating, biting off his head. (And they say males rule the world). This rude behavior doesn't surprise me since one theory holds that mantises evolved from proto-cockroaches. And when it comes to rudeness, a cockroach is at the top of the list.
(Click on each image for larger view.)