Praying mantids (like all insects) grow by periodically shedding their “skin”, which is actually their skeleton. It cracks open and they slowly slide out of it, leaving the old skeleton (exuviae) behind. This is a period of transition, when they are at their most vulnerable and unable to defend themselves. They emerge soft and weak, barely able to walk and unable to catch food.

I’m interested in the way these structures remain as reminders of what used to be, a record of every bump and groove of its body. They are almost ghostly and ethereal, like an echo or shadow made flesh. Remains, not as a reminder of death but as evidence of growth, and continued life.

Exuviae of  Hymenopus coronatus  (Orchid mantis)

Exuviae of Hymenopus coronatus (Orchid mantis)