Praying Mantis: Ootheca Construction

After not seeing any Praying Mantis activity in the Butterfly Bush for a few days, I discovered our armored hunter in the nearby decorative grass:

Praying Mantis - building ootheca
Praying Mantis – building ootheca

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.

Funnel Web Spiders

This critter took up residence in our kitchen window:

Funnel web spider in window
Funnel web spider in 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.

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 …

Praying Mantis On Duty

A Praying Mantis has once again taken up watching over the Butterfly Bush:

Praying Mantis - waiting
Praying Mantis – waiting

I made a slight noise that prompted an immediate weapons lock:

Praying Mantis - attentive
Praying Mantis – attentive

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 …

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!