Well, hello there

Not too long after the various Chinese mantids around the yard molted into adulthood, they dispersed in various directions. I actually watched the rose bush resident fly off one evening, quite possibly to be immediately snagged by a bat – I saw something happen out of the corner of my eye, but when I looked directly there was nothing to be seen. Regardless, there has been little in the way of arthropodic activity in the yard since then. Which meant that, last night as I was watering the plants, I was surprised to find this guy perched on the Japanese maple.

unidentified mantis nymphAt just 35mm in body length, this one was less than half the length of the recent residents and probably one-sixth the mass. From the size at this time of the year, I’d be inclined to say it was one of the smaller Carolina mantids, but the coloration doesn’t seem to fit – this may mean I’ve been unaware that they could be this color. For now, we (or I) will just consider this unidentified. It’s definitely a nymph, though. It also makes me reconsider the ‘typical’ abdominal girth of the species, remarked about a few days ago – perhaps they all look this pudgy. I’m sorry, ‘sveltely challenged.’

unidentified mantis on handWhile coaxing it around for a better view, it scrambled onto my hand without a qualm, and I juggled the camera around one-handed for a quick scale shot. Then, as I tried to convince it to get back onto the maple tree, it resisted playfully and trotted up my arm all the way to the short sleeve cuff, before I could brush it back onto the tree. It would seem I now have a reputation for making mantids famous. Either that or my beard looked like a tasty bug – your call.

unidentified mantid looking coquettishOnce back on the tree, it remained on the upper branches (the tree is only a meter and a half in height) and provided several fetching poses for posterity – and you had chosen “tasty bug,” hadn’t you? Actually this is typical behavior when a mantis, or indeed many different insects, walk across people – they endeavor to clean their feet afterwards. Apparently we are just that icky.

Immediately after that frame, I turned to a wolf spider not far away that I’d also spotted, and shot it at the same focal setting, so these two images are at the same magnification and can be used as comparative scale. Yes, it was a sizable wolf spider, but I’ve seen bigger.

wolf spider Lycosidae being shyActually, the wolf spiders have been noticeably thinner in the yard this year, and I have yet to see one bearing young. I’ll have to keep checking around with the LED headlamp for telltale reflections.