Dancing, Praying Critters.

  panther
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It's showtime! The dancing praying mantis and his insect friends as you've never seen them before


Looking like a Broadway diva with its arms waving in the air, this praying mantis is certainly not shy of the camera.

The remarkable pose is one of a number of pictures that show mantids and other insects from a unique perspective as they are captured in extreme close-up.

Biochemist and photographer Igor Siwanowicz has spent the last seven years carefully acquiring, breeding and capturing bizarre and visually stunning images of his alien subjects.

Taken in a home studio in Munich, Germany, Mr Siwanowicz studies the habits and physiology of these compelling creatures, which gives him the edge when it comes to producing thought-provoking imagery.

It's showtime: A large African praying mantis shows he's not shy as he displays for the camera

A large African species of a praying mantis appear to gossip in the studio in Munich, Germany

Stag beetles grapple with one another as they fight

A giant green pill millipede curls up in a ball while having its picture taken


One shot shows two male praying mantis as they show off their dazzling displays of brightly coloured wings, which are usually deployed to scare away predators.

Biochemist and photographer Igor Siwanowicz photographing insects


In a second quirky picture two large African praying mantis who both appear to be casually gossiping to each other. According to Igor the clever mantis do seem to communicate through gesturing to each other.

'I have always been fascinated by insects even from childhood,' explained the 34-year-old Polish national.

'You could say that I am sort of a public relations representative in service of creepy-crawlies.

'I think mantids are totally slick and sexy, and have style. I take weird and bizarre as positive adjectives in creative medium.  

'My favourite models are praying mantids and other insects like reptiles and amphibians usually meet fit the bill.'   

Apart from the standard challenges presented by close up and macro photography in the form of camera shake, operating with a limited depth of field and ensuring enough light is available, Igor must also contend with is the temperament of his subjects.

'Animals are very unpredictable and uncooperative, and there is almost no way to force them into collaboration,' he said.

'One can use tricks though - moths and butterflies are very docile freshly after hatching.   'Most otherwise fidgety insects can be approached early in the morning, when the temperature is low and their metabolism hasn't kicked in yet.' 

Igor cites his main influence as the works of the designer of the monster from the Alien films, HR Giger who was obsessed with the paradox of turning the human form into an alien one.  

He has decided to release a book in the near future devoted entirely to praying mantids.



A crested gecko and a Brahmin moth-caterpillar look like creatures from a horror film



An African species of Flower Praying Mantis, left and  a large species of a praying mantis display their finery

Like a bizarre species of butterfly a pair of a large praying mantids show their colours

Red-eyed tree frogs display their agility as they clamber up vines in the photographer's home




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