The appendages at the tip of her abdomen were spread to the sides and her whole body moved in small circles, although I couldn’t get a good view of the proceedings. Building an ootheca apparently requires concerted effort, as she was still hard at work when dusk fell.
This critter took up residence in our kitchen window:
She’s between the outer storm window and the inner sash, having secured her funnel web to both panes across the entire width of the window. We’d opened the storm window to clear an air conditioner vent and spiders know a good location when they see it.
We know she’s female, because a (smaller) male appeared and conducted negotiations for the better part of an afternoon. After she accepted his offer of a small, somewhat battered, moth, the two hooked up for the rest of the day; we feared for his life, but he hung around until the next afternoon, then departed.
She normally stays tucked inside the channel running along the edge of the window frame, with only the tips of those two front legs visible, and retreats at the slightest vibration, so we’ll leave her in peace until we must close the storm window.
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.
Even though cicadas are completely harmless, Mary was quite startled to discover one crawling up the back of her garden pants:
It seems the cicada mistook her for a tree.
They’re handsome creatures:
They’re very conspicuous on fabric:
I teleported it to a maple tree, where it was better camouflaged:
When last seen, it was headed upward at a pretty good pace. We wished it well on its adventures …
Mary found this gadget gnawing holes in a bean:
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.
A Praying Mantis has once again taken up watching over the Butterfly Bush:
I made a slight noise that prompted an immediate weapons lock:
We’ve watched her stalk and capture a bumblebee, as well as chow down on one of the myriad moths feeding on the bush at night.
As always, if I were smaller, I’d be worried …
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:
A few days later, Mary spotted a larger toad tucked into the 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!