Empusa sp. male – Italy

The following mantis has been photographed in Italy, Europe. The sender is wondering which species it is. Let me tell you it’s really hard to determine a species through a photograph. So which this animal I can only be relatively sure its a Empusa sp. What I do know for sure is that its an adult male. Adult because of the wings and body type and male because of the large and beautiful “feathered” antennae. What a beautiful mantis with the green wings and brown speckled body. Truly a expertly camouflaged animal.

Empusa sp. male from Italy

Empusa sp. male from Italy

Hickory horned devil

I got a message from a visitor of this website asking if I know what could be up with this caterpillar he found. He attached some pictures, and I couldn’t believe my eyes! I had never seen such a creature! He mentioned it was a Hickory horned devil caterpillar. Check it out:

Hickory Horned Devil – picture by Blaine Booher

Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar on the street – picture by Blaine Booher

It’s the largest caterpillar species in North America, growing to about 6 inches. Right now they are leaving their trees to dig a hole in the ground where they will pupate. As a pupa they will survive the winter to emerge as a regal moth next spring. Hickory horned devils are greenish blue in color with large orange spikes near their head and smaller black spikes all over their body. When they are born they are completely black but already have their spikes. They are completely harmless to humans.

The Hickory horned devil is more beautiful on this -a bit dated- video:

Video of mantis nymphs hatching

Check out this cool video of mantises hatching out of their egg. Mantis eggs are enclosed in a hard foamy pouch called an ootheca. The nymphs wiggle out of the egg and out of the ootheca on a thin string. They immediately molt (shed their skin) for the first time. After that they look like tiny mantises. Before it molts for the first time it is called a pronymph, after the first molt they are called L1 nymphs. When the skin is off, the tiny mantis dries off and walks away!
This specific mantis species has nymphs that look a bit different than the “ordinary” mantis species like the European mantis (Mantis religiosa). But they way they hatch is very similar.

It’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere!

Yes, it’s spring! At least you can feel it in the north part of the Northern Hemisphere. This means the insects are showing again. Caterpillars, butterflies, ants, and even praying mantises start to show again.

If you find a caterpillar of butterfly that you would like to know the species of, please e-mail me. I’ll see what I can do. Nice pictures will be featured on the home page of this website.

Ants as pets

Always wondered if your own ant nest would be fun? I just added a new page to this website describing how to take care of an ant colony and how to build your own formicarium (ant nest).

You can also read all about ants, like their genetic system and how they work so well together.

Here is the link: Keeping Ants as Pets

Please let me know what you think, you can contact me through the contact form.

Atlas Moth caresheet added

Today I added the caresheet for the Atlas Moth Attacus atlas. This is one of the largest moths in the world and they are a popular butterfly to keep as a pet. The life cycle is fascinating while the keeping and caring for this species is not hard at all. The caterpillars eat many kinds of leaves and are easily kept at room temperature. And of course best of all: both the caterpillar and the moth are simply stunning! Their beautiful color and weird shapes make them look amazing.

To read more about this species, check out the caresheet HERE!

A recently eclosed Atlas Moth female

Reader’s question: What is THIS?

I got a question from Marianne Brouwer from the Netherlands: “I took a picture of this enormous bug in the Andes mountians in Equador. It was around 12 cm long. Do you know what it is?”

Amazonian Giant Lacewing

Amazonian Giant Lacewing

It took some research, but this monstrosity is an Amazonian Giant Lacewing. As the name suggests, it is a species in the family of lacewings (Chrysopidae), order Neuroptera. It occurs all over the Amazonian rain forest and feeds of bugs and their eggs.