More commonly known as the Praying Mantis, these most recent visitors to my patio are "named for their prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The scientific name Mantodea comes from the Greek words μάντις meaning a prophet, and εἶδος for form or shape. Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong. Historically, the term mantid was used to refer to any member of the order because for most of the past century, only one family was recognized within the order; technically, however, the term only refers to this one family, meaning the species in the other 14 recently established families are not mantids, by definition (i.e., they are empusids, or hymenopodids, etc.), and the term "mantises" should be used when referring to the entire order."
I'm afraid I'd have to pray for a more scientific brain before I understand all that.I'm going with the common "praying mantis,"--because I'm common. Maybe for the purposes of impressing someone, I will use the very learned sounding "Mantis Religiosa." "Stagmomantis californica" or "California Mantis" would probably be correct, too.
I spotted the green one in the picture above while pruning my hibiscus hedge. The next day while having my lunch on the patio, this one appeared.
Some of the info on the Internet says mantises change color like chameleons--which these photos seem to bear out, but other sites claim that color changes are due to molting, or that color is pre-determined and mantises choose an environment based on their color. Which doesn't really explain why we had a green mantis on the brown patio umbrella pole last fall--unless dropping into Haley's salad was a pre-meditated event.
Female mantises are reputed to engage in predatory mating behavior--but that could be a lab study anomaly due to bright lights, etc. In a more natural setting males have been observed engaging the female in a courtship dance in order to change her interest from feeding to mating. Take heed, human males.
Other mantis trivia worth noting: "Mantises are exclusively predatory. Insects form the primary diet, but larger species have been known to prey on small scorpions,lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, fish, and even rodents."
Please do not eat any birds or the snake. Here is your menu:
I recommend "écureuil tres jeune." They're more tender when they're small.
A female mantis lays 12 to 40 eggs every fall.I'll be on the lookout for those egg sacks so I don't disturb them. And if anyone knows how I can make the mantises big enough to devour a squirrel let me know.