Tag: backyardbugs

Photography Challenge Day 193: The young praying mantis

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the young praying mantis that was crawling on the patio table umbrella last night.

This young thing was making it’s way across the umbrella

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.

It seems to be camera shy……

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).

A little better picture of the young mantis.

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.

No Comments insectsnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 135: The tiny buffalo treehopper

Today’s winner of the photography challenge was a tiny green bug sitting on the edge of our patio table. Thanks to the sleuthing skills of my cousin (who is an entomologist), it was identified as a buffalo treehopper.

Buffalo treehopper on the edge of the table.

These little green insects are actually garden pests, as they feed on the sap of plants—and they aren’t picky on what plants they suck the sap from. They will feed from crop plants (wheat, alfalfa, corn), garden plants, trees, and ornamental plants as well.

The females will lay eggs either under leaves or in fresh cut sliver on the stem. The young when they hatch will feed to the point that the stem of the plant collapses, and then they’ll move to a new plant or back to a tree. The mature trees can handle the treehoppers better than young, or small trees can.

Front view of the buffalo treehopper

When you manage to look at them from the front–their heads do resemble those of buffalo (hence the name–buffalo treehopper). Well it’s hard to tell from the picture how black the tips are–as those are it’s “horns”. They are unique looking bugs.

They can be found throughout the United States and are most active in the summer time. That can explain why I’ve probably never noticed them before in the yard—I’m usually sitting inside during the summer evenings (I’m not a big fan of high temperatures with high heat indexes).

The only thing I’m not sure of is whether this buffalo treehopper is male or female (and whether it is a mature adult or a newly molted adult). It will be interesting to see if we notice more of them throughout the summer, as living next to the creek—it would be the perfect spot for a large number of them to cluster together for the winter months.

References: https://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.asp?identification=Buffalo-Treehopper

No Comments insectsnaturePhotographyScience