Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Something Lurking in the Garden

 The warm autumn weather has brought a few surprise encounters. The photo shows a pair of mating praying mantises. Notice how the male (on top) is slightly smaller and measurably slighter in build. He also appears to have much longer antennae.

I came across this pair at dusk as I was running out of the house. I wasn't the only one startled by the large insects. Fik, one of our male Allen's hummingbirds, was quite disturbed to have the pair on his feeder.

I'm not sure why the large female praying mantises tend to hang out on the hummingbird feeders. Are they hunting insects that might come to the feeders or are they really set on grabbing a hummingbird? Fik wasn't taking any chances, he stayed on the far side of the feeder.

I know you are probably wondering, did the female mantis consume her male companion following mating? I don't know. I took the photo and had to run. I saw the female the next evening, but have yet to locate her egg casing. I wonder if she is one of the offspring that emerged in the back yard in June. Praying mantises.

Meanwhile a new mother-to-be has attached her tan-colored egg sac to the scented geranium, a green lynx spider. This is the second year that one of these free-living predators has stopped to have a family on the geraniums in the garden. Last year, winter storms destroyed the egg sac despite the mother's attempts to keep the nursery safe and dry. It will be interesting to see what happens this year. 

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