Yesterday morning I was cleaning one of the terraces here at the Quinta and noticed a female Preying Mantis under the lip one of the steps. It was a warm December day and assumed she was laying an egg sack, called an Ootheca. She actually wasn’t so as I needed to hose down the area I decided to move her. I have relocated many Mantises by picking them up and they usually stand their ground but this lady was having none of it. She immediately went I to full defence mode and started to grab my fingers with her Raptorial Legs. As you can see in the photos she even opened her wings to make her look scary but actually I think made her look more pretty!
All photos were shot and edited using Lightroom on my Samsung Galaxy S9+ Smartphone.
A great find this morning in the garden, although, it was the dogs that found it, not me!
This is a Death’s-Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar, the name comes from the pattern of a skull on the back of the moth. I have never seen the actual moth, but have put a library photo at the end. There are 3 species of this moth, this one is the African Death’s-Head Hawkmoth with the scientific name of Acherontia atropos, the other 2 species (Acherontia lachesisare and Acherontia styx) are found in Asia.
This Caterpillar is one of the largest I’ve seen, even bigger than the Elephant Hawkmoth. It was around 12-14cm in length and over 2cm wide. In fact it was so long that I struggled to get it all in focus, even with a small aperture.
When approached they click their mandibles as a defense tactic, although it’s not very loud. I relocated it away from the dogs to go about its business.
Last year I wrote a post about a female Glow Worm, rather than re-write all the information, you can read it HERE.
In the post I wrote that only the females light up. I was clearly wrong.
Last night a male landed on me (only males have wings) and when I removed him I noticed he was glowing. He hasn’t the output that the females have but still glowing. I took these snaps on my phone before returning him to the garden where he continued to glow.
Tonight there was a call from the kitchen; “Craig, there’s a big Mantis on the window”. I went to look and it was a Conehead Mantis outside catching all the small flies being attracted to the kitchen light.
I grabbed my camera and it flew to the table on the terrace where I was able to grab a shot of it. There are a lot of different tiny young Mantis around the garden at this time of year as they hatch from their egg sacks (remember this post of a baby last year?), but this one was a fully grown adult at around 8cm long. This is a male as the female lacks the feathery antennae.
Rain often brings Millipedes out and whilst out walking the dog yesterday morning I stumbled across a large Millipede. I’m unsure of the species as I can’t quite match the colouring to anything, however, it was around 10cm long. Certainly no giant, but still quite large.
People often think Millipede means a Million legs, but the name comes from the latin word ‘mil’ which means a thousand. However, they also don’t have a thousand legs either, most have less than a hundred, but all have less than a thousand. Evidence from fossils suggest that Millipedes were one of the first to ever leave water to land and breathe air.
As you can see, this one is carrying an injury, but doesn’t seem to be affected by it. It coiled itself up (a defensive move) when I found it, so left my phone running to capture it un-coil and continue.
Whilst walking Wally (the dog) this morning, our local Tarantula Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula) was out of her nest either feeding on the many flies and ants the rain has brought out or she was making home improvements to her burrow opening.
As soon as she saw me she darted into the nest so I set my mobile (Samsung Galaxy S8+) up outside her burrow and left it there while I wandered along to the river. About 10 minutes later I returned to witness her dart into the burrow again.
This is the video the phone captured. You can clearly see the babies moving around on her back. They are getting quite large now and some have even started to wander around the outside of the burrow and even leave on their own life adventures. Who knows, maybe she’s outside trying to get them to pluck up the courage to leave. You’ll notice she has quite a nice garden and lawn growing now due to the recent rain.