Good bug and bad bug

Holy pose or killer strike

Survival instinct

~G.S. Romero

I was working in my shop yesterday when I saw something skitter across one of the work tables. I went over and looked, and found two baby mantids. I carried them outside and released them. A few minutes later, a couple more. Obviously, somewhere in my shop is a hatching egg case with perhaps a couple hundred tiny alien-looking insects ready to take on the world. I looked around but could not find a source (perhaps on some wood I brought in for the winter?). The last one I released in one of our wildflower beds. It quickly ran up one of my favorite native grasses – Bottlebrush Grass, Elymus hystrix. You can see the resemblance to a loose lab bottlebrush in the grass flower/seed head below.

bottlebrush grass flowering

Bottlebrush Grass in flower (click photos to enlarge)

The little guy ran up into the spiky flower head and started grooming, and then climbing among the thin plant filaments. Its slender, leggy shape blends in quite well.

Baby mantis

Baby mantis checking out the world for the first time

Baby mantis 1

After posing, the mantis headed out on patrol, looking for a meal

I’m not sure which species of mantis this is, although, for some reason I think it is probably a Carolina Mantis. They tend to be more common here in the woods than the much larger Chinese Mantids, and this one looks a little different than the Chinese Mantis babies I have observed in the past. Whichever one it is, it is well equipped to hunt creatures large and small and play an important role in the invertebrate jungle of our backyard.