Monday, October 13, 2008

More Visitors in My Yard

Yesterday I found this visitor on my car. Crazy Billionaire also recently found a praying mantis on his car. What exactly are the mantises thinking? That they can hitch a ride to a better neighborhood? That if they wait long enough one of us really big animals will come along and be their next meal? They do eat vertebrates after all.

(More correctly, this insect is probably a Carolina mantid, and not the European mantid (Mantis religiosa) most commonly known as the praying mantis, but really do you care? I've gone so far to the insect side that most of you probably now just see an insect and move along. I don't blame you. I would have done the same a month ago before my entomology indoctrination training.)

I just read that adults mate in September and October so maybe they are looking for love. And wow, did you know that females often eat the male after mating, and that there is a not necessarily PG video of it?

I wish I could write more about the video, because it's truly fascinating and slightly revolting at the same time but dating back to this post, I'm really beginning to wonder about the direction of this blog. My ISP may soon be blocking me from my own blog due to adult content.
So let's refocus. Did you notice how the mantid is still looking at the camera? No, I didn't tell it to work it like I did the grasshopper. The mantid did it all on her own. She can turn her head 180 degrees.

Before driving off, I relocated her from the car to the plateau goldeneye blooming in my front yard.
She wasn't there when I got back. Maybe she was really a he, and ended up as somebody's post–adult activity snack?
Moving on to the G-rated backyard, I think this beauty on the Mexican bush sage is some sort of skipper, but I couldn't quite find an accurate identification.
The latest and most frequent visitors to my yard aren't pictured here.

They are squirrels. They have been digging holes throughout my yard, including digging up some of my newly planted plants that I haven't even been able to show you. I've cursed, I've covered the yard with cayenne and chipotle pepper, I've told the dog that she had my permission to run those squirrels ragged, and still each morning, I come out and find more holes, just at the edge of the plants' rootballs.

After failing with the brute force approach, I decided to go in another direction. I made an offering of my first Belinda's Dream bloom to the plant gods. Maybe they can have a chat with the squirrels.

If nothing else, it was probably a good idea to appease the blog and ISP gods.


  1. Perhaps your ISP would be more comfortable with the Isabella Rossellini films on mantises.

    I think it's sad that the observation of natural phenomenom should in any way be interpreted as material unsuitable for children. I'm glad MY third-grade teacher wasn't squeamish--and I was taught by nuns!

    No wonder we're in danger of electing a VP who thinks dinosaurs roamed with human beings on earth 6000 years ago, a la "The Flintstones".

    Sorry for the rant, but I can't quite grasp that there are people who would rather wallow in ignorance and let their children wallow in ignorance than open their eyes to the world around them and stare beauty in the face.

  2. Everyone is talking squirrels! Be wary of taking a mantis egg case into the house on a plant. I had one on a citrus last year and they hatched out and were running all over the place. They are minute replicas of the adult. I was trying to get them onto paper and take them outside. Some were already caught up in spiders webs. Then the first one out ate the second one- or so I read.

  3. Holy cow, that video was awful. I literally shivered while watching it. Thanks, my crazy insect lady friend.

  4. vert, Which was worse the narrator or the eerie eating of mate! Yikes!

    Keep up the insect posts...I love learning. The mantis surely looks like some creature in a horror movie.


  5. You got good photos of the bony green guys - and if two of them get busy I hope you and your camera will be there to report, Vert.

    Don't worry about turning me to the dark side - I can remember smuggling a book about insects and beehives into my desk in 5th grade so I could read it when the teacher got too boring. Nature is no kinder to male drone bees than to male mantises.

    I ran into those Isabella Rossellini films a few months ago and loved them; then saw creepy photos of a large mantis catching a hummingbird for lunch. With this Australian YouTube that makes a mantid trilogy.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. Vert, Great photo and info (which I really like- honestly)on the mantis. I have never seen one in my garden... a stick bug yes, which I think is in the same family. Of course stick bug is not even an official name. Your skipper I believe is of the dusky wing sort... they are hard to identify and there are so many of them.