Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The mantis is greener on the other side of the fence

A few weeks ago, I found a praying mantis in my kitchen.  Since my kitchen isn't stocked with mantis food (i.e., live insects), I took the mantis back outside.  After that, I didn't see a mantis again until this weekend.  When I found the mantis pictured below, I thought it must be the same one that had made its way into the house.  It was considerably bigger than I remembered, but it was the same tan color that had worked so well as camouflage against the kitchen cabinets.

A tan colored European mantis (Mantis religiosa) female.
However, to my surprise, I soon encountered a second tan praying mantis in the backyard.  This one was sitting in the middle of the path, so I decided to move it to a safer spot.  Many years ago, I learned the hard way that a praying mantis can give a nasty pinch.  At least I learned that lesson well -- this time I put on my gardening gloves before picking up the mantis. 

A second European mantis (Mantis religiosa) female.  The spikes on the forelimbs can deliver a painful pinch to bare hands.
The second mantis wasn't my last surprise of the day.  When I started clearing dead plants from the front yard, I disturbed a third praying mantis from its hiding place.  This praying mantis was the same species as the two in the backyard, but bright green.

A green colored European mantis (Mantis religiosa) female.
This mantis quickly moved towards a bunch of dried plant stems and climbed up off the ground.  It was not very well camouflaged in its new spot; nevertheless, it soon began grooming itself, seemingly unaware of the large mammal hovering over it.

The green European mantis (Mantis religiosa) grooming itself.

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