Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What I saw today

I went downstairs to pick up my mail, and on the way back to my apartment spied this little critter on the door frame of one of the ground-floor units. I came back down with my good camera and snapped a few pictures. (Much bigger versions are available for you just a click away.)

I have not seen a praying mantis since moving to Nevada. I didn't even know that any lived here, though it makes sense that they would, given the abundant supply of crickets for food.

I think they are magnificent creatures. He (or she--who can tell?) was much more intense green than shows up in these photos. I suspect the blue paint tricked the camera's sensors somehow, and caused the green to be muted artifactually. He really isn't pale and washed-out as these pictures make him appear.

Alas, he did not seem to be thriving. He seemed weak and stumbling and slow-moving. The temperature here dropped down to 37 degrees last night, and that can't be good for him and his kind.

I worried that some dork would deliberately kill him as something grotesque, or he might get accidentally stepped on if he moved onto the sidewalk from where he was precariously hanging, so I gently moved him to the other side of the sidewalk, onto a shrub. Look at how nicely he camouflages!

I fear that he won't last more than another day or two, but he brightened my life for the day just by existing, and by reminding me of other places I have lived where a diversity of wildlife is more abundantly apparent when strolling around than it is in the desert of Las Vegas.


Andy said...

I love Praying Mantids! I found one in '06 and '07, took them home, put them in a terrarium and fed them crickets until they died. They typically only live one season - they grow up, mate and die. They have the fastest strike speed in nature, measured by high speed cameras at 30-50 milliseconds. Wide-set eyes, a movable neck joint (a rarity among insects), strong, spiked forelegs... truly nature's perfect predator. Awesome!

KenP said...

If your complex has a plant servicing company, it is a strong possibility that they were introduced by them. They are the eco equivalent of bug spray and mantis cases with eggs are sold in the plant catalogs for home gardeners. Good idea!

bastinptc said...

This time of year the mating has been done and the egg cases have been attached to a surface. Next spring when the temperature reaches about 85 or 90, hundreds of little mantids will burst forth and do their thing.