13 September 2010

critters: Praying Mantises

Holy crap this is so cool! I found this mating pair of huge praying mantises hanging around in the front yard on the Texas persimmon tree. These are the largest praying mantises that I've seen in our yard.

Unbeknownst to the male (brown on the top), this female is about to make a snack of his head. Chomp chomp. She seems to be eying him up in this photo. I wish I had the time and patience to sit around and wait for that to happen. But instead I just captured their coitus for all eternity, or at least for so long as Picasa is around.

Praying mantises always remind me of my Grandmother, who gardened in Charlotte, N.C. (and not because of the killing-the-males-after-sex part, either. I wouldn't know. My Granddad was long lived and seemed a happy sort.) No, Grandmother was an avid gardener and keeper of the critters. I always loved trailing around her in the yard and collecting praying mantis egg cases from the wintery vines lacking leaves. There was a particular wall of vines that was always the best spot for collecting, just around from the sun porch. We'd snip off the egg case, throw it in an aquarium and then watch when the little mantids hatched. Surely this happened over month time periods, but it all blurs together now.

I can't wait to go hunting for the egg case in my own garden this winter.

So, cheers to Grandmother, for introducing me to these fascinating critters!


Anonymous said...

These critters are very beneficial. Except to hummingbirds!! Mantises consider hummers the same as any other insect. I watched one catch a hummer off a feeder so if one is around your feeder, move him/her to another part of the garden.

luksky said...

That is cool! I guess everything is bigger in Texas. :-)

I have a pic I took of a huge walking stick somewhere in my blog. He/she was about 10inches long...the biggest I had ever seen.

Lee said...

Mantises can eat hummingbirds?? That's insane. I would've thought the bird could easily defeat the mantis. Whoa...

Birdwoman said...

Great shot of a great insect.

David, Melanie and family said...

We've got them on our kitchen window every night picking off the moths one by one.
I'm not believing the hummer story from anonymous until I check with my expert birder friend at Audubon.
David/ Tropical Texana/Houston

Nice post. :-)

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not but do keep the mantises off your humming bird feeder while you confirm. Also move the large 'writing' garden spiders. They place their webs where the hummers will be caught in their web. Guess what? They also eat them.