Sunday, September 10, 2006

The prophet and the sovereign

So I was weeding the front flower beds today.... actually, weeding may not be the right word. Weeding is when you pull out a few dandelions or thistles or plantains. This weeding probably would have been better accomplished with a lawn mower. I was pulling out huge clumps of overgrown grass that had nearly taken over the whole bed.

At any rate, I was pulling unwanted plant material out of the flower beds, and e5 shouts, "Dad! Dad! Come look at this big bug. It's really big!"

He wasn't kidding. He'd found a very large praying mantis. The post in the photo is a 4x4 corner post on our front porch.

It's interesting to note that we've seen a couple smaller
mantids earlier in the year, both solid green. This one was
a mix of green and brown. I wonder if it's a clever seasonal
camoflage trick, with the young green mantids turning
brownish as they get older, late in the season...

Are you looking at me?!?

So e5 comes off the porch to get a closer look...

And he discovers another cool friend...
Look toward the bottom of the photo below,
in amongst the grass.
The monarch butterfly gives you another
reference point to get the scale of the mantis.

E5's newest friend...


At 9/10/2006 9:36 PM, Blogger Mia said...

Very, very cool!

At 9/10/2006 10:17 PM, Blogger Morgan said...

oh I love the photos!

At 9/11/2006 10:16 AM, Blogger madcapmum said...

I am SO annoyed with Blogger Beta. This is the fourth time I've tried to leave a comment here.

I'm not much for big bugs, but the boy-o sure is a cutie!

At 9/11/2006 12:04 PM, Blogger Suzer said...

We have had several mantis (what is the plural of that? Mantises, mantis', mantisees?) this summer and the little ones are green like you said and the really big ones are brown like that. I personally don't like them because they go out of there way to bite me...usually unprovoked. We got to see one fly last week, which is weird because their wings are set so far back on their thorax that they don't look like they can take off, but the threat of the lawn mower convinced it to fly (or flee?)

At 9/11/2006 8:15 PM, Blogger e4 said...

mia - I thought so too.

morgan - Thanks!

madcap - Strange, it hasn't really given me any problems so far. I was never into bugs much, but I have become so through the eyes of my son (and my wife, and authors like Bernd Heinrich).

Suzer - Weird, I didn't know they'd bite. It is strange to see them fly. Looks like an awkward, overgrown grasshopper or something. (Oh, and the plural is "mantids," oddly enough. Yes, I actually looked it up. What can I say? I'm odd that way.)

At 9/11/2006 10:18 PM, Blogger LauraHinNJ said...

Great pics - love the close-up of the mantis! Wonder if he would have liked to eat that monarch?

At 9/12/2006 8:49 AM, Blogger e4 said...

Laura - I was wondering about that myself. He seemed suspiciously close to the docile butterfly. But I don't know that much about their eating habits. Seems like I remember something about monarchs being foul tasting or toxic or something, since there's a very effective mimic that is almost indestinguishable from the monarch.

Is there an entomologist in the house?


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