Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Grishnak Sheds his Second Exoskeleton

So the little monster is getting bigger now. And it appears that the manti are sort of gooped up in their exoskeleton, and when they shed it, they expand? Shuddery memories of goopy aliens from the original Alien movie?

Because when the manti first emerge from the egg case, evidently they chill initially, to let their exoskeletons harden. I guess it is a little like an egg. You boil an egg, then peel it. Only this time, when the egg is peeled, the egg expands, and forms another shell.

There has to be a better analogy.

But I get home from work, too late to do anything particularly meaningful in regards to the dissertation and other insundries -- so I tend to the sunflowers, and start checking in on the new manti -- and last but not least, there is Grishnak -- but wait -- something is different.

Here you can see Grishnak, upper left, and the exoskeleton -- and he was still connected to it. The pictures were a little hard to get right, but you get the idea.

A different attempt, with a bit of scale added in:

Monday, July 7, 2008

Holiday Weekend Roundup

The big news is that the 2nd egg case hatched. I didn't quite get a clear photo, but you can at least get a sense of how the mantis nymphs emerge from the case and kind of hang off of it.

And Grishnak, the eldest mantis from the 1st egg case, is up to his old tricks again. Remember thy can clickest on the picture to see closer.

Grishnak is as fond as his Orc cousins to standing on castle ramparts.

Looking off into the distance to defend the castle from invading Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Saxons, etc.

This next close-up is a bit scary actually. Grishnak looks ready for business.

I guess Grishnak got bored between photo shoots and had to lick is paws, or foreceps, or whatever he has. Geez.

In this shot, Grishank is helping to train a recruit from the local nunnery to throw boiling oil on Visigothic ants.

Grishnak is naturally interested in science, and enjoys conversing with Albert Einstein on a regular basis.

Chilling with Albert.

Grishnak practicing maneuvers with a soldier from the nano-robot regiment.

I'm not sure praying mantises, even very small young praying mantises, can be considered "cute" -- on the other hand, Grishnak appears to think he is cute.

I can't really figure out what Gman is doing in this picture. I think maybe pretending to be a dog.

There he goes again, pausing between photos for grooming. Man, the things you have to go through to deal with insect talent these days.

The Praying Mantis - Friend of Sunflower

(copied over from June 16th entry of Sunflower Report 2.0)

Ok, so I wanted to try raising praying mantises before I made the connection that the mantis is the friend of the sunflower — but that’s really cool — and it is true that praying mantises are voracious insect eaters.

I happened to be at a store called American Science and Surplus, a wonderful, dangerous place, with parts and odds and ends and some scientific and biological doodads from time to time — and I couldn’t help but notice a praying mantis “kit” from Worlds Alive. Then about a year later I got it out and actually ordered the mantis egg case — hmmm, about 2 months ago — and the first egg case was a dud — but they sent me another.

The package below is what you get in the mail — just an egg case — and then there’s the brochure from the original kit.

But if/when this second egg case actually results in praying mantises, then it will make for some interesting shenanigans.

Since you were kind enough to read this blog post, you might also enjoy taking a peek at — a game that a student from a class I taught last year created.

Over the course of the summer I suppose I’ll dig into the digital archives and dust off some of the ideas that were floating around my head last fall and winter for sunflower, mantis and other “characters”. And then it will become a little clearer. And I’ll categorize this entry as a “Pronkle” entry; and gradually things will start to make sense.

But just so you don’t think I’m kidding, here is a preview of one of the characters, “Grond” — basically a 3d drawing by Alexandra Constantin (who is a wonderful 3d artist, and who is available for freelance). And Grond, or Grondlet, was inspired by the sunflower of the same name from last summer. (see