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Praying mantis eating black swallowtail

Mantis religiosa


I was photographing butterflies in a large meadow when I noticed this black swallowtail fluttering its wings on a teasel flower. When I got close I saw that a mantis was holding the butterfly and eating it! It was the first time I've seen a mantis eating a butterfly. It ate the whole body but with just the head and a few legs left, the butterfly seemed hardly affected. I couldn't believe it.


meadow, temperate forest


I was super stoked to see this little drama unfolding in one of my favorite meadows in Short Hills national park.

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Dan Doucette
Dan Doucette 9 years ago

Thanks! Willing and done.

ForestDragon 9 years ago

Great series! I missed this one. Would you be willing to add this one to the Marvelous Mantids of the North East mission?

Dan Doucette
Dan Doucette 10 years ago

Thanks Carol. Actually Emma, it ate the head last. The butterfly was amazingly still alive with just it's head and 2 wings left.

CarolSnowMilne 10 years ago

WOW! Incredible!

Hema  Shah
Hema Shah 10 years ago

looks like it began from the head first? Recently I saw a green Darner,a really big dragonfly, eating a smaller dragonfly. It began from head first . It took him nearly 3 minutes to eat the small dragonfly.

Dan Doucette
Dan Doucette 10 years ago

Thanks man! I tried to film it and got a short clip but it was really difficult. There was so much bright sun that it was hard to see the screen. I couldn't tell if I was in focus or not and there isn't much room to play with for macro. I'm going to check the clip again and see if I can get a short vid from it.

Josh Asel
Josh Asel 10 years ago

That's off da hook bruh! wish there was video of this one

Dan Doucette
Dan Doucette 10 years ago

Thanks Karen! I couldn't hear any crunching but was still very cool to see.

KarenL 10 years ago

Awesome series Dan! My first ever PN spotting was of a mantis eating a sachem butterfly - I could actually hear "crunching" as it munched on its prey!

NaturalistAmateur 10 years ago

Sorry, I got a little carried away. Suggestion deleted.

Dan Doucette
Dan Doucette 10 years ago

Thanks, I've found the mission and joined. I already know the ID for this spotting, you don't have to suggest an ID.

NaturalistAmateur 10 years ago

I don't know how to send the link, but the mission is called Interaction between different species of Arthropods. I found it browsing under Missions- Global.

Dan Doucette
Dan Doucette 10 years ago

Thanks so much everyone! NaturalistAmateur, I haven't joined that mission yet, there are so many! Do you have the link?

NaturalistAmateur 10 years ago

Very nicely photographed. I think this qualifies for the species interaction mission as well.

AnnvanWijgerden 10 years ago

Great photo series! ... And pretty dramatic - especially for the butterfly! :-}

Stian Waaler
Stian Waaler 10 years ago

Fantastic pictures Dan!

alicelongmartin 10 years ago

Aren't we lucky, when we observe closely. What a drama!

ceherzog 10 years ago

That's quite a find!

OnengDyah 10 years ago

Great picture.

Smith'sZoo 10 years ago

super interesting!

williefromwi 10 years ago

Wonderful capture and wonderful series Dan. I would say you were doubly blessed.

Jeannette 10 years ago

Wow, great spotting :)

emj.patterson 10 years ago

What a great wildlife moment to capture! And great job on the pictures, they're beautiful :)

Dan Doucette
Spotted by
Dan Doucette

Thorold, Ontario, Canada

Spotted on Jul 28, 2012
Submitted on Aug 11, 2012

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