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Carolina Mantis

Found this lovely lady on the lid of the trash can when I was checking the mail. She’s a female Carolina mantis, Stagmomantis carolina. She’s a native and a voracious predator, and yes, one of those types of mantis that do eat their mates given half a chance. While she won’t overwinter, odds are good there’s an egg-case somewhere with her name on it, although the odds of my spotting it are nearly nonexistent—Carolina mantis egg-cases look like odd bits of tree bark and unless she actually cemented it to the trash can, I won’t find it.

Quit chasing me around with that cameraphone, mammal! I took out my last four husbands, I'll take you down too!

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.


Forgetting how to mate and then suddenly remembering after your head gets chewed off, that's masculinity for ya!

The Carolina Mantis is the state insect of South Carolina, and the European Mantis (an introduced species) is the state insect of Connecticut.

I saw lots of the latter in Maryland when I was growing up.

Ditto, I grew up in DC and saw tons of European Mantises. Saw my fair share of Chinese Mantises in the area, too. Come to think of it, I don't know if I ever saw any of the native mantis species...

I was under the impression, from years misspent reading popsci essays, that all records of mantises eating their mate's heads stemmed from a few occurrences during high-stress captivity-- as in, when animals are infamous for going pants-on-head crazy. I certainly don't have links or references though, so I'm going to toss that out there as a counter-rumor for the entomologists to dispute as they see fit. ;)

Less questionably, that is a VERY pretty insect. I'm glad you managed to get such a nice picture of her!

Wikipedia says these guys go for about 25% cannibalism while mating and are opportunistic cannibals the rest of the time. Can't speak to the accuracy of the former, but they're definitely opportunistic cannibals in nature--I've stumbled onto a tableau or two, but always with juveniles.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
I only recently found out that mantises can fly. I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me-my psyche protecting itself from nightmares I suppose, but now that I know that these things creep me out even more.

And I know that they're "good" insects and don't bite people and I'm being horribly prejudiced against them; I still don't like the way they look at you.

It is a very nice picture, though.

Wait until you see a leaf mantis. Damn near launched myself into orbit with that one.

Never seen a mantis in flight but yes, I can see how that could creep a body out. I don't like bugs... but I am so happy to see them in my yard, even the females of whatever species that are so large their abdomen is almost the size of my thumb. WHOAH! Fortunately THOSE monsters have moved on and most are only about 3" long. Which is still an impressively large insect but not terrifying for a critter my size.

Someone posted a video of a mantis assassinating and eating a hummingbird. THAT is disturbing, because the speakers were American and they'd filmed it in their back yard. I guess you southerners grow your bugs Texas sized .

Someone posted a video of a mantis assassinating and eating a hummingbird.

You know, I had to go to work this morning. It was cold, raining icy rain, and it was really, really damp; and since I work at a market I can't even be wet on the way and tell myself "I'll be warm once I get to work!" I only had to work from 9am to 1pm, but it was still exhausting. I feel awfully tired. I was really looking forward to a good night's sleep, undisturbed by horrible nightmares of giant praying mantises eating birds.

I hate you now :D

You receive mail in your trash bin? Delivered by a Carolina Mantis?


Do you have any sort of boxwood/holly? They seem to love filling those types of dense bushes with egg cases. Whenever I get around to whacking down the unruly boxwoods I usually see dozens of old cases in them.

Cool pic, I saw one of these flying along just yesterday. It was way up in the trees, no idea if it was native though.

I live in Australia, where we have Christmas in summer, and when I was a kid, for several years our Christmas tree was something semi-native (and incredibly spiky) which grew for the rest of the year outside in a pot. One year when we brought it in, we noticed that it has a strange brown... thing hanging off of it, but we didn't pay it much attention.

And then one day, maybe a week before Christmas, we went into the lounge room to find the entire room ABSOLUTELY COVERED in teeny tiny baby praying mantises. They were minuscule, like, less than a centimeter across, and there were HUNDREDS of them. It was awesome. We did our best to catch-and-release as many as we could that day, but they were tiny and very climby, so we were scraping them into jam jars for many weeks afterwards. I remember there were two or three which took up residence on a corner of the ceiling, and we could see them, but we couldn't get them down for ages, until they decides to move from their lofty perch. I think they were the last ones to go.

My sister and I still agree that it was pretty much the best Christmas decoration ever.

We had a mantis come in for a visit a few nights ago, when we came home from dinner. My son and I came in through the back door first, while my husband and our friend took care of some stuff in the driveway. When they came in, she just waltzed right on in with them, around the door jam. She was escorted out shortly after, using a plastic pot and magazine.

Either that's a smallish trash bin, or that's an ENORMOUS mantis - about how long was she?

It's a pretty large bin, and she was quite sizeable--three, four inches?

that plump, it's possible she hasn't laid her eggs just yet.

I'm sorry. But at least we are still too large for them to threaten. And I am glad of that too after watching them systematically going after the little skippers.

Sleep tight. :D

While I admit I don't do a lot of reading on things like this, the last I heard was that, when watched in the wild, female mantises do not eat their mates. Apparently that was originally observed by someone in a ?lab?, where they had a terrarium, a female mantis, a male matnis, and not much greenery -- she ate him cause there was *no other potential food*.

Your phrasing - one of those types of mantis that do eat their mates - makes me wonder about both sides of this legend. My google-fu sucks rocks; could you point me to relevant places to look for more, other than Wikipedia? (i'm starting there as it is...)

If you have time/willingness, that is.

Apparently they do eat their mates in the wild at a rate comparable to what they do in captivity. Here's a paper that compared exactly those two things. Animal Behaviour is a reliable journal, so I'm willing to trust those data.

If you want to poke around the literature more, here are a bunch of other published studies on sexual cannibalism in mantises.

She bit off his head so he would not feel the pain.
She wanted his body so much she ate his brain.
Yeah, well, I survived, it was on TV.
She had six strong legs and it frightened me.
She had insect eyes but I could still see,
that the look she gave him, you give to me.

- Don Dixon, 'Praying Mantis'

I wonder how many more bug songs there are out there? I mean, 'Insects' by Oingo Boingo, but are there more?