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Target Mantis’s Dazzling Dance Doubles as Delightful Defense

Not everyone loves insects. There’s a reason they are often referred to as “creepy crawlers.” That’s not exactly the kindest moniker for any species. It’s also one that isn’t very fair, especially because we don’t always get to see bugs at their best. They can be just as wondrous as any other member of the animal kingdom. Like a target mantis, which puts on a dazzling dance that highlights their natural beauty. In a routine that also doubles as one of the most beautiful defense strategies you’ll ever see.

This video (which we first came across at Boing Boing) comes from the YouTube channel WooGlobe. According to MSN, it was filmed by Martin French in Norfolk, UK. It features a target mantis performing what looks like a solo dance routine. In reality what this stunning little bugger is doing is “flexing its impeccable defense skills.”

French, who calls this a “mantis Kung fu dance,” says the show is effective thanks to the pattern on the mantis’s wings. The design resembles the eyes of a much bigger insect. Flaunting them is a way for the target mantis to artificially present itself to keep any would-be predators at bay.

A target mantis shows off its wings, which look like they have giant eyes, while standing on a leafWooGlobe/Martin French

If you only watch a few seconds of this video you’re going to miss out on just how captivating this routine really is. This isn’t interesting because the mantis is trying to make itself look bugger. The show itself draws us in. Its moves are deliberate, paced like an interpretive dancer confident in their skills. (No one will confuse it with a flamenco performer anytime soon.) It includes its whole body, arms, and head in the routine. This bug really knows how to fill the entire stage/leaf. And the longer it goes on, the more mesmerizing it becomes. At least in a video.

If we came home and found a bug that appeared to have massive eyes we would freak out. But this video makes it clear that there’s nothing creepy about this crawler.