Sunday, November 4, 2007

Taken home

In the middle of my day at work, I take a walk—a break from the indoor environment that, at some times seems claustrophobic—especially on sunny fall days. It’s not too stimulating—beige concrete bounded by the blacktopped lot and brick-faced building, covered by a metal canopy—but it’s fresh air, nonetheless.
And, sometimes within this sheltered area, there are creatures that seem out of place. Stranded on this man-made island, separated from where they intended to be.

Last week I found a praying mantis. Not another mantis, like the huge Chinese Mantids that descended upon my milkweed patch in August, the imported garden-stalkers from the other side of the world—a very different, smaller one, the North American native, the Carolina Mantid.
Her season is almost ended. Frosty mornings will soon bring our first hard freeze. But until then, she deserves better than days on a barren concrete sidewalk, dodging unseeing feet.

She behaved perfectly in that inverted styrofoam bowl on my desk for the remainder of the afternoon. Aside from the occasional “scritch” of her barbed feet as she walked around inside it, and my peeking through the air holes I’d given her…we kept her visit a secret.

The next morning, at home, with the warm sunshine on fallen leaves against the river rock wall—she seemed at home.

Chinese Mantid on milkweed
August 12, 2007

Chinese Mantid straddling large milkweed leaf
August 12, 2007

Carolina Mantid
only 2 inches in length
November 2, 2007

Green eyes
Raptorial forelegs with sharp spines

Carolina Mantid
November 2, 2007

Her small wings and heavy body do not allow her to fly--but they are beautiful to look at up close--
mottled shades of brown, silver and rose.

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Lynne said...

I'm glad you brought her home.

mon@rch said...

You have some wonderful macro's of these guys! I just love the way you framed these shots! :)

Rebecca Clayton said...

How lovely! I've never seen the native species "in the field." Thanks for sharing.

nina said...

I have never seen one, either. Her much smaller size gave me confidence to hold her and see her more closely than the others.
Getting her to look at the camera was a little difficult, though--she was much more interested in everything else!

Julie Zickefoose said...

It seems around here that the Chinese mantids show up on the shrubs and flowers right by the house, but you have to go beating the little bluestem fields for the gracile little Carolina mantids. I've never seen one mottled like this one--fascinating.

You're wise not to bring her in. I do it most every year, feed and coddle them, and am treated to the sight of a bug slowly deliquescing, losing a lower limb here, an arm there--I'm always reminded of the movie, "Death Becomes Her," with Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn. Leave her to the frost, cruel as it seems; it's kinder to both of you.

Your blog is very serene and soothing. i love it.

Susan Gets Native said...

I have seen zillions at Kelley's Nature Preserve hanging around the milkweed patch. It's a sci-fi movie.
I think what we have living under the kitchen window (who make lovely little manties every year for us) are the native kind. At least I hope so!

I love how you find beauty in something that would make others say "Ewww!"

nina said...

If I thought she'd yet to lay her eggs, I would try to keep her "hanging on"--would so like to know the natives are here, too. Her camouflage coloring makes me wonder if I may have walked past more!
Maybe it's a good thing she's not in the same place as the Chinese mantids--they look like they're easily capable of eating HER!

Susan--I KNEW you'd appreciate this post!

MojoMan said...

I didn't know any of this - that the 'praying mantis' is not native and that we have our own native one. I'll be paying much closer attention now. Thanks for the lesson!

Kerri said...

She is beautiful!
You took some Great shots of her too!

Mary said...

You always make me smile, Nina. My walks on work breaks aren't very breathtaking, either, but I have found odd, out-of-place creatures, too.

I love mantids but haven't seen but a few this year.

I'm glad you took her under your wing. Your a natural naturalist.

Ruth said...

I cannot envision you working in a concrete block!

Carolyn Hietala said...

Super! Yet another mantid lover ;0) I can't get enough of them so guess it's my favorite insect. The Carolina isn't as often spotted... lucky you!

Q said...

She is lovely!
I also have them in my yard every year. Wonderful you brought her to a natural enviroment!
Mantids are very cool bugs.