Among the delights of living in the boonies are chance encounters with prehistoric creatures. I'm pretty sure this one hasn't changed much over the millenia. With its raptor-like front legs and fantastic camouflage, the Praying Mantis is among the most successful of insect predators. Mantises were imported to the US from China and Europe to aid in control of crop-damaging insects. At least three varieties and their multi-hybridized offspring are now found here.
I caught a glimpse of this one as it flew from one place to another to escape my riding mower. I was astonished at the size of it - at least five inches length, possibly more! Just as I turned to run for my camera, I heard a horrid snapping noise. My bad dog Freda had spotted the fluttering mantis and had her muzzle buried in the butterfly bush where I had last seen it. Oh crap! I yelled at Freda "No! No!" and she backed off looking both hurt and chagrined (see below).
Luckily for the mantis - and for me - Freda's jaws had missed. As I shot photos, I bemoaned the shortcomings of my digital camera with its lack of decent focus or close-up ability. Roy or Linda would have had a field day with their high quality equipment - and excellent eye/s for what makes a fabulous photo. The photo above is just about life-size.
As a child, these were/are among my favorite insects. I was thrilled to find an egg case, always hoping to be nearby when the tiny mantises emerged by the dozens or even hundreds, and once or twice I was that lucky. Even now - when their numbers seem to me to be greatly reduced, I get a little thrill when I find a mantis - or an egg case.
Here's Freda sulking. She is a bird-dog, after all - and this mantis was large enough that I had at first thought it a fledgling fallen from a nest. I made sure the mantis was high up in the Magnolia tree and commenced mowing.