Cochise County Insects: The Praying Mantis (Male)

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If you know how to identify the species of the praying mantis that visited my Cochise County office window last night, feel free to enlighten me.  Frankly, I don’t have a clue–except to say that it’s obviously not an Arizona Unicorn mantis or a Mediterannean mantis.

That’s about as far as I got.

It’s most likely he’s a male.  We can figure that much.  Online sources indicate the adult males (those that escape being eaten headfirst by females after mating) often fly to garage lights on late autumn nights.  This is still late summer, technically, but still….

Pam first began her love affair with praying mantids (mantids being the plural of mantis, apparently) in our Parachute, Colorado, garage in 2007.  Due to my long hours away from home as a water truck driver in the gas drilling boom, she was often alone except for the cats and one leopard gecko.  A praying mantis came to see her…and eventually stayed there, hanging around the garage door frame, until winter came along and literally froze him out.

There were times she had more than one of these magnificent green insects hanging out with her.  Fortunately, they were never super-close together, so she didn’t get to see them eat each other.

Seems they do that at times.

Fierce predator or not, though, a praying mantis will gladly hang with humans and listen when you talk to them.  They have a great set of eyes, too:  A  big pair of compound peepers on the sides that can see color and three simple eyes across the middle.

How sci fi is that?

A praying mantis–most likely an adult male–comes to call at my office window

The office window with the lamp in it draws an endless stream of buggy little visitors.  It’s a dirty thing, that window, so Mama Nature’s children can feel right at home on the paint-spattered glass.

Obviously, I don’t do windows.

No, it’s not an attitude thing.  It’s a lack of time thing.  Long story, great excuse.

Moths have clung to that glass from Day One.  Didn’t know the praying mantis  had such a great set of sticky feet.

The Moth and the Mantis–sounds like a book title, doesn’t it?

Well now.  Time to grab a flashlight and take this photo op to the great outdoors.

Angling for a shot, I brush too close to a spider on the wall, spooking it a bit.  As it clambers up said wall a few inches, thus getting my attention, I apologize while taking its picture.

What’s a spider photo doing on a praying mantis page?

Hey, it’s my page.  This ain’t no thesis paper for a PhD in entomology.  So there.  (If you’re freaked out by spiders, close your eyes and have a friend scroll down past the next photo to save your sensitive orbs.)

Spider on wall.

With the spider mollified, it was time to see how the praying mantis photos would come out when the critter was backlit by the room light.

Mantis and moth…admiring the lamp?

Uh-oh.  The most striking shot of the night shows off the praying mantis beautifully…but also shows the gap in the window casing between vertical and horizontal planking.  Also the old ant trap (need to get around to discarding that) and a few thousand dead mini-mini-bugs killed by Going to the Light.

Ah, what the hey.  I built this place by hand; you want perfection?

Pretty green from this angle!

After I hang out on the left side of the window for a while, the praying mantis decides I must be okay.  It turns toward me, moves toward me–though that photo blurred too much to publish–and takes up a new position on the window frame just inches from my position.

They really do like humans.  At least, some humans.

The mantis takes up a new position just inches from my own.

Hey.  We were bonding.  I leaned over a little, looked down into its most interesting face.  It looked right back at me, never wavered.

Cool.

Face to face, eyeball to multiple eyeballs.

My wife calls any praying mantis buddy of hers “Angel Wings”.  If you ever get a chance to see one of these magnificent creatures fly, you’ll see why.

One more photo, and we called it a session.  I said goodnight to the graceful green runway model–okay, window and/or window frame model–and headed back inside.

That was three nights ago.  This page was begun that same night but not ready for publication until now.  Things came up, like for example the Mojave green rattlesnake I nearly stepped on last night.  (There’s a published page featuring the snake, of course.)

But we’re ready to go now, so here ’tis.  Except for species identification.

We could really use some help with that.

Seemingly settled in for the night.

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