Praying Mantis Pays a Visit

Look what I found clinging to a window screen when I turned on an outside spotlight to check the progress of last night’s wind and rain storm.

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I don’t know if it planned to just hang out there, when the light came on it began scrambling up the screen and, briefly, clung to the outside of the transom window above.

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It seemed curious about the woman pointing the camera in its direction and posed for a portrait.

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With only illumination from the outdoor spotlight, the camera caught a nice close-up.

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The European or Praying mantis (Mantis religiosa) is Connecticut’s state insect, a fact I did not know until I did a bit of research for this post. The European mantis is not native to Connecticut so I’m not sure why it is the state insect. If you know why, please share.

According to Bugguide.net, it was introduced, accidentally, in 1899 via nursery stock from southern Europe. The insect was quickly recognized as a predator of gypsy moth caterpillars and grasshoppers and is now sold commercially as a beneficial insect. It’s been Connecticut’s state insect since October 1, 1977.

I don’t think this is a European mantis, though. It better matches photos of the Chinese mantid (Tenodera aridifolia subspecies sinensis), also commonly sold, in the form of egg-cases, for release into gardens as a beneficial insect.

All mantis have voracious appetites, feeing on aphids, caterpillars, and whatever insect it can catch … even other mantids. They don’t feed on plant material, just meaty creatures, making them the gardener’s dream predator.

If you find this insect fascinating and want to learn more, there’s an org for at.  ThePrayingMantis.org has more facts and even videos of different types of praying mantis catching and devouring a spider, cockroach, and even birds.

Kind of makes me wonder if this mantis was sizing me up as a potential meal or just decided to stop for a Kodak moment.

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6 comments for “Praying Mantis Pays a Visit

  1. September 20, 2012 at 8:37 am

    What a prehistoric looking creature, and such a welcome one to help out in the garden!

    • September 22, 2012 at 9:37 am

      Laurrie, I found another praying mantis, of the European variety, right after I finished this post.

  2. September 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    These are one of my favorite insects. I love seeing them around the garden because I know they are helping me control the pests. And they are so interesting. Thanks for the information, much of which I did not know.

    • September 22, 2012 at 9:38 am

      I really enjoy watching them, Sage Butterfly. The are, at once, majestic and prehistoric.

  3. September 22, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Joene, What great photos. I saw my first praying mantis of the season last week in a client’s garden. Actually, it was nestled in one of the containers. I walked past it and saw what I thought was a bit of twig in the container and leaned down to pick it out. Much to my surprise, it moved when I got close! I tried to take some photos but it was not at all cooperative, like yours was. They really are such strange looking creatures.

    • September 22, 2012 at 9:40 am

      Debbie, I’ve now seen four, one in a client’s garden and three in my own – one a European variety and the other two like the one pictured. I have yet to find mantis egg cases, though.

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