About the Author

James Tyrrell

Alumni

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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20 Comments

on Mantis vs. the Bats

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

Interesting blog.

Such an interesting and informative article. Thank you!

Joan Schmiidt
Master Tracker

James, I loved all the photos, especially bat

Victoria Auchincloss
Digital Tracker

Have to admit bats creep me out altho I know they are necessary to the balance of power in the controlling of insects. Wow didn’t know mantis were so agile in the air. Victoria

Vin Beni
Guest contributor

This is so fascinating! Akin to dolphins’ echolocation.

Michael and Terri Klauber
Guest contributor

James, This is just one more piece of the incredible education about wildlife that you and your team continue to provide. The technology built into the different species continues to amaze us. Thanks!

Valmai Vorster
Digital Tracker

What an incredible story and full of interesting insight in the life of a mantis. They are surely very agile, fast and fierce fighters. The way you explained how they drop down just before the bats eat them is very interesting and clever. Thanks James.

Christa Blessing
Master Tracker

Really, nature is amazing. What a marvelous combat between bat and mantis.

Bob and Lucie Fjeldstad
Guest contributor

That was very interesting including the 2 metre tall penguin (now extinct)

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest contributor

How amazing is that! Survival can be a complex business!

Dries Marais
Digital Ranger

James,
Interesting article and excellent photos of the mantis.

I know a little about the subject having been a fast jet fighter pilot and also specialising in electronic warfare – that part of countermeasures against enemy aircraft radar but more critically, enemy radar controlled air-to air or ground to air missiles. The active countermeasures involved counter radar emmissions and the passive countermeasures involve flight tactics. As countermeasures improved, so did the enemy radars improved and that cycle contnues to this day – and I say this for a reason.

We had study material of bats inside a large hangar, with sets of rope nets hanging down from the ceiling down to floor level. There were bats and moths inside the hangar. There were high rate infra-red video made of their dynamics. The size of the nets’ grid was such that a bat’s wings would just fit in there. Over time the nets were replaced with ever thinner ropes, then twine, and in the end piano wire was used. Never did a bat fly into even the piano wire.

Some moths – not all – had evolved the flight maneuvre as you describe in the article – namely a last ditch dive at just the correct moment. The principle for the dive is that the bat’s infrasonic pulse goes out in a horisontally polarised pattern – meaning it is wide horisontally and thin vertically. Imagine the design of that speaker system to achieve that pattern – if you would consider the normal propagation of sound waves through the air.

So the moth (mantis) knows the sound pulse is vertically thin and wide horisontally but also that it expands in diameter further from the emitter – if it plunges too soon there will be a perceptible echo disturbance and the bat will follow him. So moths evolved to have the fine hearing resolution to identify the rapid increase in the pulse repetition frequency and dive down at that precise moment to get out of the narrower pulse shape nearer the emitter.

Then came the counter-counter measure: bats, when the echo was lost at the last moment had developed a way of measuring the very last few of the pulse returns and dove down into an intercepting dive and not a ballistic following, and the moth reappeared as an echo in its receptor in time to be grabbed.

Nature is immensely ahead of us humans and then we are so arrogant to proclaim ourselves as being the crown of creation.

The smaller the insects the more sophisticated are their abilities. Read all you can about termites – and I mean all – including its digestive tract and what lives inside there and you will stay awake for nighs contemplating that the solution for mankind to stop all conflict is right there.

Regards

Dries

Kara Taylor
Master Tracker

Nature is a continuous marvel – there is something to be appreciated and learned every day!

Paul Canales
Digital Tracker

So cool James! I tried to find a video of a mantis escaping a bat, and found this cool video about mantis mating here in California!
https://youtu.be/NHf47gI8w04

Leonie De Young
Digital Tracker

An interesting blog James. We all tend to want to see the big things in our surroundings, but sometimes it’s the little things that are also fascinating. I would not wish to be a male mantis thank you very much. Thanks for sharing with us, I enjoyed reading it. Be well and stay safe.

Wendy Macnicol
Digital Tracker

Very, very interesting James! I am not a great fan of mantids but it always amazes me that most animals – both predators and prey – are given attributes by our Creator to both succeed in catching something as a predator, and to escape being caught as prey. It evens things out considerably. Levels the playing field. Wendy M

Tracey Van Dijck
Explorer

Wow that’s incredible. Who would have thought of jets and subs when looking at a mantis. The cutest insect to me is the baby praying mantis when it’s just hatched out. There cuteness does hide their slightly darker side though…

Suzanne Gibson
Guest contributor

Really interesting James, please carry on sharing!

Cally Staniland
Digital Tracker

Just love these interesting snippets James. It reminds me of a trip we did to the Tsingy Bemaraha reserve in Madagascar some years ago. We camped out in tents and as the sun set the sky would be blackened by thousands of bats as they came out to feed. The sound was awesome. Almost like a Boeing passing low overhead! We witnessed a Cicada killer wasp take down a HUGE Cicada on the ground It attempted to take off but couldn’t manage. So she scaled a tree, dragging her catch..went to the end of a branch and jumped off. This helped her gain enough height to fly off towards her nest. Now you can’t tell me that doesn’t take some reasoning to work out a plan. So impressive 🙏😊

Francesca Doria
Digital Tracker

Excellent post! Mantis are little creepy creatures that in their cosmos look giants like orcas in the sea or lions on earth… please keep posting on insects they are intriguing

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

I really enjoyed this blog- new information!

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