The winner of today’s photography challenge is the young praying mantis that was crawling on the patio table umbrella last night.
So I’m not exactly sure what the exact species of mantis this is—praying mantis is a common name that seems to go for over 2,400 different species across the globe. In terms of distribution, they are found in temperate and tropical habitats, where most are ambush predators—though some will actively pursue their prey.
The praying mantis also goes through several different growth stages between hatching and adult mantis, and the number of molts differs between species. So this one could be somewhere between two and five (for example) in it’s molts before reaching adult stage. Though it still has some growing to do in order for the body to fit the legs (and antennae).
What are some interesting facts about the praying mantis?
Majority are found in the tropical areas of the world—there are only 18 native species found within the entire North American continent.
The most common praying mantis seen (within the US) are actually introduced species—not native.
They can turn their heads a full 180 degrees, without being possessed by a demon.
Their closest family members are actually cockroaches and termites.
They lay their eggs in the fall, which then hatch in the spring.
The females are known to occasionally eat the males after mating.
They have specialized front legs for capturing their prey.
Since they don’t fossilize very well—the earliest known fossils are only ~146-166 million years old
They aren’t totally “beneficial” in the garden—they will eat any and all bugs (good and bad) that they find.
The weirdest fact for last: They have two eyes, but only one ear—which is located on the underside of their belly. It’s thought that those that fly have the ear to help them avoid being eaten by bats.
Reference for the fun facts: https://www.thoughtco.com/praying-mantid-facts-1968525
So while I may keep an eye out for the egg pouches this winter (photography time)—I’ll also make note of where I saw it, and then check the surrounding area(s) in the spring and summer for the nymphs and adults.