The praying mantis may be the toughest, baddest bug there is. While it typically eats other insects, it has also been observed preying on vertebrates, including small birds, lizards, frogs, newts, mice, snakes and even turtles.
And now, for the first time ever, a praying mantis has been observed hunting fish in the wild.
A group of Indian scientists
recently observed a praying mantis fishing for guppies in a roof garden pond. The praying mantis came to the same location five days in a row and caught at least two fish each visit.
The scientists determined that the praying mantis was a male over 2 inches long. His technique was to walk on the leaves of water lilies and reach down to pluck the guppies out of the water. He caught the fish either at sunset or nighttime, and scientists were impressed that he was able to see the fish under the surface of the water.
Praying mantises have five eyes — two large ones on the sides of their heads and three smaller ones in between the two large ones.
Praying mantises have already been recorded catching and eating fish, like in the clip below. But these recordings were taken under human-manipulated circumstances.
In the gif above, the praying mantis appears to be someone's pet, and it's presented with an easy-to-catch goldfish in a shallow bucket.
This incident in India is the first time a praying mantis has been observed catching and eating fish in circumstances where there was no human interference.
The praying mantis is not the only bug to hunt fish.
The fishing spider is an invertebrate that actually feeds pretty much exclusively on vertebrates.
The fishing spider has many evolutionary adaptations that allow it to hunt in water: waterproof hair all over its body, and feet that can detect very subtle vibrations beneath the surface. While the mantis has to stay on a water lily while it hunts, the fishing spider can actually float on the water's surface.
It's hard not to feel bad for the poor fish, but it is pretty fascinating to watch these bugs hunt. Nature does have a way of producing some highly skilled assassins.
Here's hoping you don't have nightmares tonight.