|A Praying Mantis in the Rosemary Bushes of the Pry Garden|
A favorite and regular insect that I see in the garden is the Praying Mantis. We have so many at the Pry House that I frequently encounter them while in the garden. I have always had a great affinity for the mantis since I was very young, and to find one was always very exciting.
|A Mantis which I Photographed Last Year in the Garden|
|A sandy-colored mantis photographed in California; up close, it looks like an alien creature!|
Up close, the mantis really looks like a scary alien creature from movie. That impression is somewhat justified, as it is a super-alert and voracious predator. A praying mantis feeds mostly on large insects, but it will eat just about any creature it can successfully subdue. A mantis has not poisons or stings, but grabs its prey and begins to eat it alive. Mantises will even eat one another, especially when young; the female praying mantis is infamous for the practice of killing and eating her mate, which is true, if exaggerated.
|An Asian Species of Mantis Chows Down on an Insect!|
|A Shed "Skin" from a Praying Mantis in the Garden|
|Someone else's picture of a mantis egg case|
The mantises that I have photographed here are not yet mature. Praying mantises will hatch as tiny nymphs from eggs when the weather warms in Spring or early Summer. They will undergo several periods of growth and molting of their exoskeletons before reaching adulthood. Most species of adult mantis have wings and the smaller males can usually fly short distances. In the Fall, mantises will mate, lay eggs which will overwinter, and die with the arrival of Winter.
The praying mantis is well-adapted at camouflage, which helps it to snag unsuspecting prey, but also to avoid becoming prey itself to larger animals. Their color, usually green or brown, blends in with their environment of leaves and bark. Some mantises can also slowly change their color over successive moltings. Most mantises will also gently rock back and forth, which may be an attempt to mimic foliage blowing in the wind, but might also be a technique to improve their vision. I have often seen them doing this on the bushes.
|I see you! The camouflage is fairly effective in our rosemary bushes.|
The praying mantis may be a dangerous creature in the world of insects, but they are totally harmless to humans. The next time you are outside, look closely in the leaves and you just might find this odd-looking critter. Don't be afraid and don't kill them; they are really a good friend to keep you company in the garden.
|A friend was hanging out|