Camera : Canon EOS 5503
Location : My garden, Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa
My Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia – native to Africa) are in full flower. It wasn’t until I up-loaded this pic to my MAC that I saw the little Praying mantis. I went back to the flower and, upon closer inspection, found 8 more babies on the other side of the flower.
The mantid is the only predator which feeds at night on moths (most moths are active only after darkness) and the only predator fast enough to catch mosquitoes and flies. For me, that’s MORE than enough reason to have them in my garden, catching those mozzies!
One generation develops each season. In the autumn, females lay eggs in a large mass or cluster (an inch or so long), in a frothy, gummy substance glued to tree twigs, plant stems and other objects. Over-wintering occurs in the egg stage in this case. Tiny nymphs emerge from the egg mass in the spring or early summer.
The “Praying Mantis” is truly a most remarkable creature with a striking appearance and curious habits. They do not bite humans, damage household furnishings, nor spread disease. However, when handled, their spiny-like forelegs can be readily felt as a “sharp pinch.” I just LOVE that feeling!
These plants produce spikes of upright, brightly-coloured, red-to-orange flowers. This gives names such as “torch” and “red hot poker” to many of them. The flowers produce copious nectar while blooming and attract sap-suckers such as the Black Sunbird to my garden. Besides the flowers of my Aloe ferox, this seems to be their most popular feeding spot.