Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Praying Mantis

This morning, I went outside to retrieve our empty garbage cans, and found this sitting on the handle:

To give you an idea of scale, his body from head to tail is about 1.5 inches long. He was hanging out and catching bugs that were buzzing around the empty can. I never saw him catch anything, but when I went out later to show the kids, he had some kind of gnat in his "pincher arm", which he discarded while we watched.

I remember the first time I saw one of these around here. My reaction was: "we have these here?" They come in two different color varieties that I've seen. Green and brown. It's possible the color is a difference in gender, or maybe even seasonal.

When I was young, I had this book about bugs. In it was a section on the Praying Mantis, and I loved reading about them. The thing I remember most, was a drawing of a little boy in Mexico catching a praying mantis, and tying a string around its neck like a leash to keep it in his room. Now that I've seen one, I'm thinking that either the picture is an exaggeration, or the Praying Mantis' get bigger the further south you go.

These guys are a rare treat that we see every month or so during the summer. It's fun to see how they move. I especially like their little head. You can wiggle your fingers on different sides of him, and the head spins around instantly to look. I guess they got to have that kind of speed to catch the little gnats that they do!

Anyway, I'm glad I finally got a picture of one. Usually when I see them, I'm at someone else's house, or they are on the outside of an upstairs window screen where you can't get a good picture. This guy stayed put for 30 minutes, so I had time to take pictures, and show them to each of the kids as they got ready for school.



The Moody Minstrel said...

I think the males are brown and the females green. At any rate the females we have here in Japan can get up to half a foot in length!

Praying mantises are cool to watch, especially because they can rotate their heads. It's trippy when you get close to one and it turns its head to look you in the eye!

DewKid said...

Wow, that's interesting. My dad (in Oregon) says they have them there too. Funny, I don't remember ever seeing one there, but I guess maybe I wasn't looking for them. I always thought they were a South America type of critter, but I guess they are more ubiquitous than I imagined.


Don Snabulus said...

I think they have been added recently by gardeners looking for an alternative to chemical pesticides.

I've seen some going back to mid-90s but don't remember any from earlier.

Yours is cooler though.