|Big compound eyes and sharp spines on forelegs|
|Basking in the morning sun; legs outstretched to snatch prey|
|Praying Mantis Looking like a cosmos leaf and watching the camera|
|Monarch for breakfast|
|European Praying Mantis consuming Monarch Butterfly|
Where is it? Some days I spot the European Praying Mantis in the garden and other days I don’t. Its camouflage is so excellent that I may look directly at the mantid, glance away at a butterfly, look back - and it has vanished! Of course, it’s still hanging in the same spot, looking like a leaf and a flower stem. The Praying Mantis needs this disguise to hide from birds such as Blue Jays and Mockingbirds. But this insect, Mantis religiosa, is a large and voracious predator. Consider this: during a Hummingbird Festival, several of my Master Naturalist acquaintances reported hearing a hummingbird squeaking in distress. When they investigated the source of the fuss, they discovered a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the clutches of a Praying Mantis. They confessed that they did intervene, using a pencil to carefully pry the tiny bird from the mantis’s grip. Another Master Naturalist friend recounted that as a child she and her sister would feed raw hamburger to mantids on her front screen door. Interestingly, the next season, Praying Mantises returned to her screen! In my garden, I have seen the Praying Mantis devour Green Anoles, bugs, moths, and to my great dismay, a Monarch Butterfly. After that episode, I was emotionally and foolishly considering a “Praying Mantis Relocation Program”. I wanted to move it away from the Milkweed Patch to a different part of the yard, but first, I would have to find it. After two days and no sign of the mantid, I had calmed down. The Praying Mantis is hunting, hidden in the garden.