We were greeted on the playground, this first day of school, by an insect that didn’t camouflage quite as well in the grass as it did in the garden (where we put it)- a Praying Mantid! The photos here show its color and placement on the Lupine bush it occupied for the rest of the day. The fun was returning to see if we could find it. It climbed up the stem swaying like a leaf or a stick, because it not only camouflages by looking like foliage but by imitating it. Mantis is the genus of most Mantid species, from the Greek word meaning “prophet” and appear to be praying (hence the common name) as opposed to preying, which it also does (a voracious carnivore, they mostly eat other insects). Though they can bite they have no venom, so when Mr. C carried it from the grass to the garden he was quite safe. In proper style, he invited it to walk on his hand by placing his hand in front of it as it walked forward (as opposed to picking it up with his fingers which could potentially damage its exoskeleton and cause it to react negatively). It was tempting to pet it, though not probably something the mantid would have appreciated. They are most closely related to cockroaches and termites, not stick insects and leaf insects and grasshoppers like they might appear. In China mantids are honored for their mindful movements and represent patience and stillness and in some circles are said to be good luck- a great first day kind of discovery!
Male or Female? Females have 6 segments in their abdomen, males have 8 (see abdomen photo [top left]). Females also have an elongation at the end of their abdomen for laying eggs called an ovipositor. So I’ll turn the question back to you… male or female?