click to enlarge
For all the years I have been watching mantises in the back yard, I have seen only long, slender green or bronzy-brown ones. Today literally on my doorstep I found a different one, with big spotted wings and an unusual shape. I was on my way out to the post office with a long-delayed package to send to Seattle, so I just took notice of the little stranger and hurried on.
Back home, I didn't see it at first, but realized it was worth looking up and studying. When I spotted it trying to climb up a short step, I used a letter from my messenger bag to transport it around back to a Cosmos plant. Its odd shape, grayish color and large wings were clues to its identity. Because of the hot weather, the Cosmos was swarming with huge bees, but their wingspan was almost as large as the mantis and they would have been hard to catch.
The other mantises were five or six inches long by Autumn, while this one was closer to two inches.
I took a lot of photos, but my aging camera declined to take macro shots, so only a few were good.
The sunlight hit the creature's wings in this shot, in a way that emphasized its lacy wings.
Google images turned up a name - Carolina Mantis. I went out with a ruler later to verify its size and forgot my camera, so missed the chance to get a photo of the mantis dining on a suitably small bee.
I find these little nature vignettes in the heart of the city simply entrancing, especially after all the recent household turmoil and of course the nerve-wracking final weeks before the election. It made up for all the mishaps of the day as well.