What is that scary, alien looking thing?

This scary, alien looking thing is a Praying Mantis. If you were a tiny bug, then you would have a right to be scared out of your skin, but, to us, he’s harmless.

Heres some more about the praying mantis.

Their eating habits mostly include other insects, but large species of mantis have been known to prey on small scorpions, lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, fish, and even rodents; they will feed on any species small enough for them to capture, but large enough to engage their attention.

Generally, mantises protect themselves by camouflage and concealment. When bothered enough, like when a human pinches their abdomens and moves his hand around them with sudden movements, many mantis species will stand tall and spread their forelegs, with their wings fanning out wide. The fanning of the wings makes the mantis seem larger and more threatening, with some species having bright colors and patterns on their hind wings and inner surfaces of their front legs for this purpose. If harassment persists, a mantis may strike with its forelegs and attempt to pinch or bite. As part of the threat display, some species also may produce a hissing sound by expelling air from the abdominal spiracles.

Organic gardeners who avoid pesticides may encourage mantises as a form of biological pest control. Tens of thousands of mantis egg cases are sold each year in some garden stores for this purpose.

During fall, praying mantis females deposit an ootheca on the underside of a leaf or on a twig. If the egg case survives winter, the offspring, called nymphs, emerge in late spring or early summer. The nymphs have voracious appetites and typically cannibalize each other if they cannot find an adequate supply of aphids and other small insects. Egg cases are commercially available for placement in landscaping.

However, mantises prey on neutral and beneficial insects as well, basically eating anything they can successfully capture and devour.

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