Monday, October 3, 2011

Animal: Tenodera aridifolia

I think mantids are awesome, though I have two reservations. One is that this species (common name: Chinese mantis) is apparently known to catch the occasional hummingbird or lizard, and I can't get on board for that. Hummingbirds and lizards should be alive. As much as possible.1

I also insist that they not get any larger if they expect me to continue to like them. I don't think this is being unreasonable. Four inches (10 cm) long: awesome alien-looking bug. Four feet (1.2 m) long: nightmarish monster that catches you in its knife-lined legs and eats you alive, beginning with your face.

This species is native to China, and was introduced for pest control around 1895, says Wikipedia. Why anybody would bother when North America had several perfectly good mantids already, I have no idea. There seems to have been a general feeling in the late 1800s that we should just introduce any damn species we like to North America, whether necessary or not. People in the past were weird.

Anyway. Seeing mantids around is one of the nicer parts of this time of year. I assume they're around the rest of the year, too, but smaller, and therefore easier to miss.


1 Oh! I've also seen hummingbirds this year, twice, at the Cannas. Which I didn't mention previously because I don't have photos -- they took off as soon as we saw one another. But I really did see them.


College Gardener said...

I share your feelings about mantids. Unfortunately I have not seen any this year - though we did have a good number of hummingbirds - but in previous years late summer would bring quite a number sitting in the shrubs around the house and even on the window screens.

orchideya said...

I like the pictures, there is no visible objects around to scale the size, so the thing looks giant.

Benjamin Vogt said...

I've had a glut of mantids this year, most ever. Big and small. Lots of egg cases around, too, after I saw some mating going on. I saw plenty a mantis eating monarchs this summer and other butterflies, but thankfully hummers. I tried to pick up a mantis, chased it, it flew, chased it, then it had had enough and swung around and tried to rip my fingers off. Ouch let me tell you.

phantom_tiger said...

I don't get mantids! I'm starting to feel left out, here in Canada. I only saw one hummingbird this yr which is disappointing, though we only ever get a few. I was glad to see it though because the previous two yrs I didn't see any, which is unusual. Sometimes they'll come right up to you and stare into your face, which is unnerving and cool at the same time.

Thomas said...

I've never seen one leaning forward and resting on it's front legs. The second picture is very cool - looks curious about you.