Image of the Day: Molting Mantis

Watch an insect shed its exoskeleton and stretch its new wings.

Emily Makowski
Jan 9, 2020
Time-lapse of Cardioptera mantis molting
CÉSAR FAVACHO

éCsar Favacho, a wildlife photographer and evolutionary biologist at the Emilio Goeldi Museum in Brazil, studies mantis taxonomy, behavior, and evolution. He used time-lapse photography to make a video depicting a Cardioptera mantis during ecdysis, or molting. Mantises go through several molts before reaching their final size at adulthood, and this insect was filmed while going through its last molt. In the video, it slips out of its exoskeleton and stretches its fully developed wings, a sign of maturity. The entire process took about 70 minutes.

This mantis was collected for photography and observation by Favacho and other biologists while on a field expedition in the Fortaleza region of Brazil. “Praying mantises, even though they are amazing insects, lack studies on their biology and behavior,” says Favacho in an email to The Scientist. “In the last decade, the number of studies has grown, but there’s still a lot to figure out.”

Check out his other insect images and videos on Instagram and Twitter.

Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at emakowski@the-scientist.com.