In these portraits the viewer is invited by the mantis’ illusory gaze to anthropomorphize them.  This gaze, along with their distinct head and shoulders, are akin enough to our own that an uncomfortable tension is created between the mantis and viewer.  Superficially the tension is with their inhumanness — the way they feed, their distinct lack of consciousness, and their sexual cannibalism — but more subtly the tension is from their incidental nascent mimicry of our form.  As a species we mimic one another in society while struggling to remain an individual; homogeny is valued even at the threat of losing ways to distinct individuality.  The mantis by being alien yet relatable erodes the viewer’s sense of self.  As the number of acceptable others are eroded and ways differentiate ourselves become more limited we are threatened with losing ourselves to homogeny, and viewing the remaining the other balefully.