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 …

Toad Time

The toad population has apparently been spending more time near the Mighty Wappinger Creek, rather than around the house, during this very dry summer, so this small toad at the garage door came as a surprise:

Toad at garage door
Toad at garage door

A few days later, Mary spotted a larger toad tucked into the spice garden:

Toad in spice garden
Toad in spice garden

Small tree frogs sound off in the darkness around the house, but we’ve never seen any of them.

We wish them great success in their future bug hunts!

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.