I have never seen one of these in the wild before, and certainly not in North Dakota, yet my littlest boy brought one home from a nature walk today! I shouldn’t be surprised, since he caught a four-inch “walking stick” bug at the sandbar a couple of weekends ago. He catches toads and frogs, flies, and any manner of bug. I don’t think he got that talent from me, although I did “catch” him a fuzzy caterpillar on the way home from work today. This mantis is one majestic insect, let me tell you. But it’s got a mean streak.
In addition to being a talented climber, this bug is a diligent preener as well. It spent plenty of time tending to its legs and feet while I snapped away in an impromptu dining room photo shoot.
I don’t have any photos to post, but once we put this critter back into its habitat with a grasshopper from the yard it showed its true colors. I looked over to see how it was doing, and it had gnawed the head off the grasshopper and going to town on its body like it was an ice cream cone. Before long, nothing was left except a few bits of wing and forelegs. Yikes.
After I’d tucked the little ones to bed and was sitting in my recliner, I heard a spooky scratching. The mantis was trying to escape its bug hut (good luck, pal). I went to the next room and peered at it through the plastic wall. Its antennae constantly swayed back and forth in a nearly hypnotic motion, and it stared at me with an unwavering “I’ll chew your face off, wise guy” glare.
We’re going to go the extra mile to prepare a happy habitat for this predator. Grasshoppers and crickets abound right now, and are available year round. I think I may lock my bedroom door at night, though…