The Praying Mantis in the Butterfly Bush is definitely female:
I’d noticed her distended abdomen a day or two earlier, when it was highlighted in the sun and pulsing slowly. The indentations under the male’s legs shows the surface is definitely softer than the hard chitin of most insect armor:
The tip of the male’s abdomen twisted around to make contact, but I have no idea what all the little doodads common to both of them back there were doing.
The whole process started in mid-afternoon, they were still locked together six hours later, and the male was gone in the morning. The stories about female mantises eating the males seem greatly exaggerated, but she did manage to catch and eat a moth while otherwise engaged.
We’ll keep watch for ootheca on the tall grasses again, although we’ll never know the rest of their story.