Trying to be sneaky

Was checking over the potted plants out front of Walkabout Estates this morning, and spotted this tiny guy.

unidentified newborn mantis on gardenia leaf
Now, I have several mantis egg cases/oothecas scattered in various locations and have been keeping an eye on them, and saw no evidence of hatching, but obviously this one came from somewhere – I might have missed the hatching while away, and subsequent winds eradicated the little telltale ‘beard’ that would have indicated this. Or I’m not paying as close attention as I think I am. Notably, this one was not very close to any of the oothecas, increasing the curious quotient.

Moreover, I cannot identify this one just yet. Normally, the first to hatch in the area, and the only ones that I usually have oothecas for, are the Chinese mantises – but these egg cases came from my brother in New York, and from some of the evidence that I’ve seen, these would instead be European mantises. When they’re larger I’ll be able to tell, because the European mantids have dark spots on the underside of their forelegs, ‘armpit stains,’ because of course antiperspirant isn’t as prevalent in Europe. Okay, that was a cheap shot and I know it, but some you just can’t let slide.

unidentified newborn mantis on gardenia leaf
it would be nice to have known that this one did come from one of the oothecas I placed – but not too informative, because I don’t know for sure that the cases are either Chinese or European mantis anyway, and they look too much alike. But I’m reasonably sure that this is not a Carolina mantis, because they hatch later and typically display an upturned abdomen at this stage, or indeed, most of their instars before final/adulthood. So I’m going to say this is either a Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis,) common in this area and appearing thousands of time before herein, or a European mantis (Mantis religiosa,) never before seen here, I believe. So you should either be bored or awed.

unidentified newborn mantis on Japanese maple leaf
Eventually, I located two more, both on the Japanese maple tree near the front door, which is near one of the placed oothecas, so better evidence that this one had hatched – though I cannot rule out these being from a naturally-placed ootheca that I never located over the winter, which has happened before. Basically, I’m waiting until I can get a look at their pits, and feel free to run with that quote. At least now I can say that the macro season has truly begun.

But while I’m here…

ANNOUNCEMENTS: I’ve been having reminders popping up in my calendar for a few days now, so I’ll use this space to address them.

The Lyrids Meteor Shower is presently ongoing, but is expected to peak around the 21st and 22nd, so go out and chase that if you’re so inclined. Last night was certainly no condition to try around here, but tonight might be better.

Earth Day is April 22nd, and we’ll see what I scare up for that, but, you know, give something back to the planet or be more green or something along those lines.

And April 24th is the anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, 34 years ago and still going strong. I just tried to determine if it would make a visible pass over this area that night, and found that it is no longer able to be found in Stellarium – no idea why, but likely something to do with the various upgrades I’ve done recently. I’ll be tackling this shortly.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go determine just how difficult it is to see the undersides of the forelegs of a shy insect that doesn’t measure 10mm in length. I mean, anyone can herd cats…

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