A Welcome Guest…

Last wednesday I came home after work and was hurrying to get ready for a costumed fundraiser that Charlie and I were going to later that night.

Telly, our fat Russian Blue-ish feral, never misses a single thing that happens outside when it comes to other creatures passing through our yard.  He is especially excited about the other feral cats and, of course, the birds.  Once a bird perched at the top of the iron bars outside our bedroom window, and you could hear Telly chattering a mile a minute, stretching out his big body and his fat belly trying to reach as high up the window as he could get.

Last Wednesday he jumped onto the bed for his daily “you’re home and it’s time to pet me” visit, when suddenly his attention turned to the window…his eyes got enormous and he leapt to the window sill (not an easy feat for this big boy) and he once again stretched himself out as he chattered away, staring intently at something.

“What do you see, Telly?”  I looked and saw nothing.  Occasionally it will be a tiny spider or a piece of thread…this time it looked like a tiny sliver of plastic on the top of the sill…but at closer inspection, I realized his gaze was a few inches lower.  I bent down and looked up into the window and saw an amazing bug on the outside of the window screen…is it what I think it is?  I ran outside to see. Sure enough!  Here’s our visitor:

I don’t think I have ever seen a praying mantis before, and certainly not up this close.  It let me get closer…

WOW!  Just then I heard some little boys two door down yelling to each other “Hey – there’s a HUGE GRASSHOPPER over here – let’s get it!”

I couldn’t let it happen.  I yelled across the fences – I don’t think that’s a grasshopper…

Their faces popped up over the fence.  “Is it REALLY BIG and green, about this long?” I asked them. “Yes!”  came the reply.  “I have one too, on my window – it’s a praying mantis and they’re good bugs – you don’t want to hurt them because they eat all the bad bugs!”  (that maybe a little bit of a stretch, but I didn’t want them to kill it.)  Their sister heard me and came out of the house “Yeah – it’s a praying mantis and dad says not to kill it – don’t touch it.”  Thank you, dad.

I took a movie of the mantis as it moved its legs and then I realized it had reached the top of the screen and was now at glass and literally couldn’t continue any further, but seemed to be trying.  I took one more picture before offering a stick to the bug, which it clumsily latched onto, and I moved it to the ground in an area where it had access to leaves, twigs, a shrub, a tree, and a fence. (not really sure what ideal mantis habitat is!)  Hopefully it found its way wherever it needed to go!

Thanks for the visit!


6 thoughts on “A Welcome Guest…

  1. Wow, superb photos! The praying mantis is the only insect able to turn its head. They are certainly preparing to expire at this time of the season, looking for warm nooks. The swollen belly on your specimen suggests it’s a female with a collection of eggs inside her. She will look for a stalk or branch on which to glue the mass. It will be a brown or amber honeycombed blob, 1-2″ in size, stuck to something. I usually see the egg masses on my Mom’s Azaleas, or on a tall perennial stalk that is very sturdy. It will hatch out a few hundred tiny hungry mantises in late May next year. DON’T BRING IT INTO YOUR HOUSE. It will hatch in your home and you will not be happy. If you locate the egg mass and wish to keep it around, you can mark it with a swatch of fabric or ribbon. Or if it’s located on something that needs to be cut down, remove the section of branch holding the egg mass and clothespin it to something permanent, another shrub or twig. Disguise it if possible so as not to attract birds or mice to it. They will eat it. I have seen mantises many times in my yard. Once I saw a male cardinal wrestling with a large praying mantis in the early fall. They were thrashing around in the underbrush, making a lot of noise. Mantises can be aggressive toward bees and butterflies, but they do eat a lot of harmful bugs too, and they eat each other. That’s great that one decided to visit you ! It’s a sign that you are doing something right with your yard.

    • Meems, that’s great! I don’t think I had ever seen one before either. It was a real treat and I’m hoping we will see more this year. They sure are fascinating creatures and good garden-friends.

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