My kids and I have several questions about the creatures I photographer. These questions I have not been able to kind on the web so hopefully people here can help. If anyone else has a "stupid" question they want to ask feel free to post yours here too.
1. Where do dragonflies go at sundown? We have recently had a fairly large number of dragonflies come out to visit during the day (and have no ponds or water near by). You do not seen any early morning or in the early evening. Where might they be hiding?
2. Last night was an amazing experience, we had to total of 20 mantises (or mantids- which is proper?) by our front and back doors. First it started with 2-3 hanging out at our front door with maybe 1-2 on the back porch. Now they appear to be coming in herds which I am thrilled over! Is this breeding season? They all appear to look the same.
While one or two will hang out with me all day most leave and then come back at night. Where is it they would typically go? I would love to photograph them on a more natural environment then my walls...lol. We have two large Lady Banks near our door but I cannot see to find them there.
I was joking with my husband telling him look my mantises are telling others, "hey come look at the crazy lady, she likes to talk to you and take pictures" lol. On a serious note it does feel they are studying me as much as I do them. Now I was told a while ago that mantises have pseudo pupils which are attracted by light. Yesterday with one mantis that likes to be picked up I held him/her in my hand under our porch. I watched the eyes as I rotated my little friend and the pupil always followed me as did his/her head. If they have pseudo pupils that are attracted to light why would it track me without any light source change?
That brings me to another question, in terms a dummy can understand how do you tell the sex? Please be as monosyllabic as possible ;o).
Back to the eyes, I thought the cause for the mantises eye color change was from the pupil expanding so they see at night better (at least that was how I took it when this "pupil" was explained to me). I have shots though that seem to "disprove" my understanding. While there is this black/ dark grey film that covers the eyes in my pictures you can still clearly see the pupil under this "film". Does this "pupil" respond more to heat than light? And what is that dark film that covers their eyes at night?
3. All of a sudden Katydids are flocking toward us too (boy I have been in macro heaven) and I always thought they were herbivores. While I have not seen the Katydids eat and insect it appeared these were stalking prey just like my mantises. Is there are Katydid that eats other bugs? I got some pictures which I will try to post when I get a break during school.
4. We have an orb weaver who mated about 2 weeks ago. When will she lay her eggs? Where will she lay them? Will she survive winter or should she be dying soon? I have pictures posted of her already while mating and after.
I have some other questions regarding our Orb weaver. Prior to mating she would build these beautiful round webs and would take them down almost every morning. One morning I was able to observe her taking down her web. It almost appeared she was eating her web. Is this what she was doing or did I miss it fall to the ground? About a week and a half prior to mating her web started to get really erratic. Almost like the spiders from spiders on drugs video. Is this some sort of mating thing?
5. Can anyone recommend an entomology book that would be good for amateurs? Preferably one the kids and I can both use and learn from.
If anyone is interested I post one of my mantis experiences on my FB fan page. http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=109139055775573¬es_tab=app_2347471856#!/note.php?note_id=152804518067628
It was a pretty strange night with some very playful creatures.
Thanks so much for all your help!