Monday, October 13, 2014

The Praying Mantis

 Every autumn I'm lucky enough to come across a praying mantis. As a kid, I'd often find the foamy tan egg cases attached to the stems of weeds. I'm sure they are still plentiful but as an adult, and one with allergies, I seldom go the places where I might still find them.

 This close-up shot is quite clear. Their usual prayer-like posture is evident in this shot. I found this mantis on the wooden milk box beside the garage and picked him up and moved "him" to one of the wooden chairs on our back porch for better observation.

 A full-body view doesn't betray the sex. On the bottom, a male would have nine sections; a female would have just seven (though the female is heavier).

 The mantis stayed around for at least two days, even through a light rain. I'd check on it every time I passed this spot. Many times he had barely moved.

 Though they are ferocious-looking insects, they are not painful biters (though they will latch onto a finger if they mistake it for food). I just use a pair of gloves to move them but it is wholly unnecessary.
 I'd keep this one for a pet but for their need of living insects for food (including each other). Even so, their lifespan is short: never longer than 14 months. More trouble to house and feed than they're worth, especially with winter approaching.
 But I enjoy my usual autumn observations and would miss it if a year rolls around when I do not see this favorite.

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