Saturday, August 31, 2013

Evening prayer

The Praying Mantids I usually come across in the garden here --- one or two a year --- are considerably larger than this little guy, enjoying the evening light on a just-watered geranium yesterday. So I figure this is a juvenile. 

There are supposed to be two varieties in southern Iowa --- Chinese (larger) and Carolina (smaller). I'm figuring that what I usually find, three inches long or larger, are Chinese. I like them (some don't). It's  hard to spook a Mantis, so it's often possible to sit down and take a good look, Mantis meditation maybe.

They seem not to roam far from home, and once located get to be a little like pets. A Praying Mantis will not survive an Iowa winter, however, so its life span is relatively short. Don't get too attached. Eggs are left behind to hatch the next year.

The conventional Iowa State University wisdom is that Praying Mantids used to be common only in southeast Iowa, but have spread gradually west and north during the last decade, perhaps because of our moderating winters. A Facebook friend found one in Mason City the other day.

Mantids are not vegetarian, but they're not especially good at discriminating human foe from friend either and will chow down on anything they're large enough to capture, usually by ambush, and chop into bite-size pieces. That could be a butterfly or it could be a beetle. Youngsters will cold-heartedly consume siblings, too.

I've decided to name my new friend Marsha. Hopefully, she'll stick around.

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