Monthly Image: Mantis Mating

The Praying Mantis in the Butterfly Bush is definitely female:

Praying Mantis Mating - front
Praying Mantis Mating – front

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:

Praying Mantis Mating - rear
Praying Mantis Mating – rear

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.

Cicada Time

Even though cicadas are completely harmless, Mary was quite startled to discover one crawling up the back of her garden pants:

Cicada - left front
Cicada – left front

It seems the cicada mistook her for a tree.

They’re handsome creatures:

Cicada - left dorsal
Cicada – left dorsal

They’re very conspicuous on fabric:

Cicada - right dorsal
Cicada – right dorsal

I teleported it to a maple tree, where it was better camouflaged:

Cicada - on tree - right
Cicada – on tree – right

When last seen, it was headed upward at a pretty good pace. We wished it well on its adventures …

Striped Hairstreak Caterpillar

Mary found this gadget gnawing holes in a bean:

Striped Hairstreak Butterfly - caterpillar
Striped Hairstreak Butterfly – caterpillar

The lump on the right is frass, not a mini-me tagging along behind.

We had no clue what it might be when it grew up, but Google Lens suggested a Striped Hairstreak Butterfly caterpillar and, later that day (and for the first time ever!), we saw an adult Hairstreak fluttering on a goldenrod in the corner of the garden.

As with all caterpillars, you’d never imagine the adult butterfly. It seems they move their hind wings to make predators aim at the south end of a northbound butterfly …

Monthly Science: Inchworms

A Rudbeckia Black-eyed-susan coneflower from the garden carried a passenger to our patio table:

Inchworm - linear
Inchworm – linear

Even linearized, the inchworm was barely 20 mm long; it’s the thought that counts.

The stamens mature in concentric rings, each stamen topped by a pollen grain. Apparently, those grains are just about the most wonderful food ever, as the inchworm made its way around the ring eating each grain in succession:

Inchworm - feeding
Inchworm – feeding

Of course, what goes in must come out:

Inchworm - excreting
Inchworm – excreting

I had to brush off the table before washing it; the pellets are dry, but smear when you get them wet.

Another flower in the vase held a 10 mm inchworm with plenty of upside potential:

Inchworm - junior edition
Inchworm – junior edition

After nearly a week, the flowers were done and the inchworms had moved on. We wish them well, although we likely won’t recognize them in the future.

Monthly Science: Small Praying Mantis

These Praying Mantis nymphs may have emerged from the ootheca I rescued from the grass trimming operation earlier this year:

Praying Mantises in grass - 2020-07-24
Praying Mantises in grass – 2020-07-24

The closest one was about 60 mm long, with plenty of growing ahead in the next few months:

Praying Mantis - 2020-07-24
Praying Mantis – 2020-07-24

A few days later, I spotted a smaller one, maybe 40 mm from eyes to cerci, hiding much deeper in the decorative grass clump. Given their overall ferocity, it was likely hiding from its larger sibs.

They have also been stilting their way across the window glass and screens in search of better hunting grounds. My affixing their oothecae to another bush may have disoriented them at first, but they definitely know where their next meal comes from!

Perhaps as a bonus, a Katydid appeared inside the garage, stuck to the side of a trash can that Came With The House™ long ago:


I deported it outside, in hopes of increasing the world’s net happiness.

The stickers covering the can say “WPDH: A Decade of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, suggesting they date back to 1986, ten years after (Wikipedia tells me) WPDH switched from country to rock. Neither genre did much for me, so I never noticed.

Monthly Image: Wren Traffic

A pair of wrens, having found the new entrance reducer entirely satisfactory, set up housekeeping in the front bird box and raised their nestlings.

Somehow, they manage to fly directly into the hole without stopping:

Wren - front box - entering
Wren – front box – entering

Outbound trips require a security check:

Wren - front box - exit check
Wren – front box – exit check

And away!

Wren - front box - fly away
Wren – front box – fly away

After those nestlings fledged, they began building a nest in one of the garden bird boxes a few hundred feet away. In short order, we’ll be awash in wrens!