Finding a tiny praying mantis on the floor of the Atlantic Forest

Praying mantis with arms raised, posing on mushroom


I was walking through La Lorenza Iguazú Nature Preserve, a stunning private sanctuary in the Atlantic Forest of Argentina, when I looked down and caught a glimpse of this tiny praying mantis in a funny pose. The mantis was perched upright, with its chest wide and arms stretched, a posture the insects often take when threatened or wanting to appear intimidating. As I squatted down to get the shot, I was fascinated by the miniature mushroom the mantis was resting on. I later learned the fungi in the picture are Lentinus berteroi, edible mushrooms long used by Indigenous peoples.

I walk these trails often with my camera, looking to photograph the many biodiverse species living together on this piece of land, but I don’t often notice these small wonders. I’ve photographed jaguars and capybaras and monkeys, but intentionally focusing on the small things—the tiny mushrooms and brave praying mantis—reminds me that no species is more important than another. Every species on this planet deserves to be fought for.

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