Usually we find Chinese praying mantises. Their eight inch length is impressive. The Carolina praying mantis is a mere four inches long.
The Chinese mantis is green with brown wings. The Carolina is either all mottled brown or green, not mixed.
A Carolina praying mantis has moved onto a potted plant. She spends the day poised below the flower umbels or munching on unlucky insects she captures.
Gardeners like mantises as they eat lots of pest bugs. Garden supply houses found they could ship Chinese mantis egg cases easily. These large mantises quickly adopted their new surroundings and spread from gardens to yards to wild areas.
Native Carolina mantises slipped into the background. Their smaller size meant they ate less. Their egg cases were harder to ship as they are wrapped around twigs.
Our resident mantis is one of the mottled brown ones. I went out to take her picture. She turned her head to look at the camera.
Mantises have no poison. They do have front legs lined with sharp spines. Once an insect is trapped between them, there is no escape.
This mantis caught what seemed to be a wild bee. It was struggling as she started munching. She eats it all, cleans her front legs and moves back into position.
Although the mantis stays on the plant, she isn’t above going sightseeing. The telephone repair man arrived and found she had hitched a ride on his arm. He was understanding, didn’t stomp on her and we chased her back to the potted plant.
Later a board was carried by and she hitched a ride into the garage. She was coaxed onto a small board and returned to the potted plant.
Her abdomen is swelling with eggs. She will lay them soon. She will die with the summer.
Next spring the eggs will hatch. Perhaps another Carolina praying mantis will hang out on the potted plants.