Photo of Mantises

Claim: this is a photo of Empusa pennata AKA the Cone-head Mantis

mantises_by_Mehmet_KaracaPhoto credit: Hi friends by Mehmet Karaca

The photo is real. However, as @PicPedant pointed out, it appears to be staged.

Fotoforensics report shows clear signs of tampering.  Neal Krawetz aka @Hackerfactor also analyzed the photo and provided a histogram view:


  • The photo has been manipulated and staged
  • Apparently someone has tried to erase a thin horizontal line from the photo. This thin line is most likely a wire that propped up the mantises
  • The histogram image shows 1) vertical line holding the legs and 2) horizontal line connecting the waists. These lines are most likely wires

@PicPedant wrote:

Reminder that there is an industry of abusing and manipulating unlikely animal photos to produce “cute” viral shots

Another example of a viral “cute” frog photo (photo credit: Shikhei Goh):


Update #1: two frogs

This photo by Ajar Setiadi is often shared by the picture accounts.

Analysis by Neal Krawetz:

Update 2: another photo of two mantises

This photo looked suspicious. I was requested to remove the photo from this blog. However, the forensic analysis link is still available.


In both cases the analysis suggests that wires/strings were used to control the animals. Both photos were also submitted to a National Geographic photo contest.

Further reading:

– The Cruel Cost of “Cute”
Pseudo-nature Photographers
Photo Analysis Accuses Some Photogs of Faking Cute Animal Photos in Cruel Ways

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