Sometimes, blemishes on a subject tell a story. I didn’t notice the pair of thick scars on the mantis’s face until I brought the images up for processing.
While we can’t know for certain what happened, it looks like an old prey insect fought back. Perhaps a carpenter bee managed to grab hold of her killer’s face, or an ant retaliated. In any case, this insect isn’t a picture-perfect specimen. It’s more interesting than that.
Incidentally, the image is among the most heavily photoshopped files I’ve ever uploaded to my galleries. It is a focus-stacked composite of two photographs taken at slightly different focal depths, combined manually using the clone tool in photoshop. The focus-stacking technique produces an optically impossible result, yet one that is pleasingly crisp, with the illusion of being larger than life.
Here are the unedited originals: