More Adventures of Hop-a-Long Part 1

Let me reintroduce you to Hop-a-Long, a three inch long Schistocerca americana, or common American grasshopper. I say reintroduce because Hop-a-Long was featured in The Saga of Ms. Spidey, back when the two of them occupied the same small, clear plastic, cookie box before The Duel which Hop-a-Long won, leaving Ms. Spidey dead on the bottom of her lair.

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Hop-a-Long’s new glass house arrived on the 16th of March, a few days after The Duel. It is 6 X 9 X 7.5 inches to the apex of the roof.

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Here’s Hop-a-Long just minutes after being released into his new digs, lunch (lettuce) waiting for him up in the back corner.

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And here he is half-an-hour later, almost at the apex of the roof of his Bugarium.

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Four minutes later, moving approximately 1” per minute, Hop has managed to make it half way across the roof.

I hope you enjoy the short movie below.

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Hop barely hanging on to ‘the rod’ being wielded by the hand of god (little g).

Here’s a little quickie I call Muncha Buncha Lunch, Part 1.

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On 23 March 0002NCE I found the thing seen above clinging to the top of a small pomegranate tree growing beside my balcony. I suspected it was a cocoon of some sort and that at some point before long, it being spring, an insect would emerge from it. But what kind of insect?

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I didn’t have to wait long to find out. The next morning I noticed that the thing was exuding some sort of matter and then saw a tiny critter nearby. Focus on the the upper, left corner and you can see it, albeit somewhat out-of-focus. Can you tell what it is? Scroll down and you’ll not have to guess.

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Ain’t this the cutest little critter you’ve ever seen. She is only a few hours old and is as fully formed as she’ll ever be.

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The image below is included to give you an idea of how tiny she is. Hop’s legs look humongous by comparison.

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And then I started noticing them everywhere!

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These images were made two days after first noticing the tiny manti. Can you count how many are in the next two frames?

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Four more days have passed and the ootheca is still exuding tiny critters, which, as you undoubtedly know by now are some type of Praying mantis. (The Mantidae family of insects includes hundreds of individual species.)

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They just ‘dripped out’ hanging from very fine threadlike fibers that looked like a strand of spider silk. The two embryos hanging from their threads on the right had almost fully matured forty-five minutes later (below).

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As they hang from their threads they begin to twist and writhe until the thread breaks and they are free! The above image was created at 09:14 on 28 March, four days after the 1st of the critters arrived and the one below about an hour later.

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I can’t resist showing pics of them. They just seemed to strike such interesting poses as they scurried amongst the rocks.

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The image above and the one below were taken about the same time. I call the one below Afterbirth.

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The image below was taken two days later and still has the afterbirth hanging from it but no more little critters.

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In the image above I counted about three dozen little critters. I began to wonder what they would eat. Do you know what manti eat?

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Lettuce perhaps?

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The image above was made on 7 April, ten days after the appearance of the first manti, and there are noticeably fewer in the Bugarium than there were. What’s happening to them? Why are they disappearing?

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Have you guessed what’s happening to the tiny manti? Members of the Mantidae family are described as generalist species and if there is no other source of live prey around, they turn on each other! They become cannibalistic!

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And here is the final survivor! The victor! Is she thinking ‘I just consumed my last sibling! Now I will starve.’ This photo was taken on 18 April, just over a month since the ootheca began exuding critters.

And this concludes the story of the ootheca.

More Adventures of Hop-a-Long Part 1 concludes with Muncha Buncha Lunch Part 2.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little presentation and will return for More Adventures of Hop-a-Long Part 2.

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