Praying mantis rodeo

Praying mantis with SteveAfter we re-located the praying mantis, we began the process of, well, relocating it. Steve set his briefcase on the bank’s windowsill. “Maybe I could take my computer out…”

“We can’t put him in your briefcase,” I said. “He’ll get smooshed.”

“Pocket?” Steve looked down into his shirt’s breast pocket.

“Will he stay in there?”

“I have no idea.”

It was a big pocket, but I was still unconvinced. “Can he even fit in there?”

Steve looked down again. “I guess. Maybe?”

“Could you just carry him?”

Steve reached up to the window and let the mantis crawl onto his hand. “I think so.”

We started to walk, and the mantis leapt off his hand and flew a few feet away. Steve recaptured him, and the cycle continued. He flew ahead of us across Washington Street. We corralled him on the sidewalk, warning a couple of college students not to step on him.

“Whoa,” said the college guy. “Praying mantis. That’s a big one!”

The girl looked at it, her jaw slack, eyes wide. Silly girl.

“We’re trying to catch it,” I said. “I’ve never seen one before.”

Did I mention I used to be one of THOSE kids? One of those kids who asked inappropriate questions in a loud voice in public? OK, maybe not, but apparently, that night, I’d completely turned off my filter.

“You know the female eats the male after sex,” said the college guy. Then he snickered.

“Smart female,” I said.

They continued down the sidewalk, and Steve picked up the praying mantis again. Again, it flew away, this time over toward the store windows that line Clinton Street.

“Do you have anything in the car we can put him in?” Steve asked.

“Coffee cup from Sunday morning,” I said. “Now I’m glad I forgot to take the trash out of my car.”

I raced to retrieve it, and when I returned, Steve stood guard over the praying mantis, which was working his way up another window. Steve took the paper cup and lid, and gently slid the insect in. “Got him,” he said.

“Let’s go, let’s go!” I said. “Let’s get him home!”

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25 Responses to “Praying mantis rodeo”


  1. 1 Tanna September 6, 2006 at 8:04 am

    How wonderful. When I was growing up and would visit my aunt and grandparents farm, all the cousins would send hours it seemed watching the praying-mantis. They really are facinating.
    Hope it’s happy in the new home.

  2. 2 Sugar Creek Farm September 6, 2006 at 10:41 am

    Matt just mentioned the other day that the praying mantis has started overwintering in southern Iowa, because of the warmer winters. Hope this guy overwinters in your garden!

  3. 3 Claire Splan September 6, 2006 at 11:57 am

    I know it’s a beneficial insect, but the way it stares into the camera is very freaky. Ew.

  4. 4 Loretta September 6, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    He looks like he’s loving the camera! Whaoh…

  5. 5 cole September 6, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Um, he /she needs a name, don’t you think?

  6. 6 jugnoo September 7, 2006 at 1:34 am

    My goodness. he wants to be a model so soon. Its first foto shoot of him. How much you paid him? Very nice capturing
    Have a nice day
    Pakpics

  7. 7 Nancy September 28, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    I found a praying mantis ny garden Sunday and was so fascinated by it. I checked out Wikipedia and found out just how many various kinds of mantis’ there are. I wonder what kind mine is? Check out the India flower praying mantis on Wikipedia’s page on praying mantis’. I am calling my new friend Twiggy. I wasn’t sure if I could pick him/her up so I didn’t disturb Twiggy. I don’t see a way to send you a picture of Twiggy.

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener September 30, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    Nancy, you probably could have just put down your hand and Twiggy would have climbed right aboard. They’re pretty friendly, from my limited experience! They’re really amazing insects…I’m now an officially huge fan.

  9. 9 someguy October 4, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    dude i need a video of how praying mantises walk! for an animation project, help me out

  10. 10 inadvertentgardener October 4, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    Someguy, unfortunately, we didn’t take any video. Sorry that I can’t help you. Good luck with your project!

  11. 11 roisin November 29, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    prayin mantis’s are soooooo cool!!! i wish we had more stuff like them in England, alothugh don’t the africans fink prayin manis can rise the dead, kinda creepy!! On the hole i fink their weird

  12. 12 inadvertentgardener November 30, 2006 at 7:16 am

    Roisin, that is a little creepy. I’m going to have to do some research about where they appear — I didn’t realize they weren’t native to England. I guess I never really thought about it!

  13. 13 AJ Fisher August 14, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    I caught a Chinese mantis at work today (Urbandale, Iowa). I captured him off a vehicle brought in by a customer for a repair. There was a box perfectly sized that I placed him in for the ride home. Now he’s temporarily living in my ten gallon aquarium that I’ve readied for my Emperor Scorpions. (Don’t worry, I don’t plan on feeding him to my scorpions!) Mantids are very fascinating to watch hunt and feed. Now I’m headed outdoors to find some more crickets. Peace.

  14. 14 inadvertentgardener August 14, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    AJ, that’s excellent! Glad you’re not going to feed him to the scorpions. I hope he enjoys those crickets!

  15. 15 John August 22, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    This is the second time one of them enters my apartment from the balcony. At first I was thinking to take a knife at it and start a duel, that’s how big one of them was. And she was actually looking at me with those big eyes…following me as I moved across the room… Bleah!

  16. 16 inadvertentgardener August 24, 2007 at 10:01 am

    John, I love how the eyes follow people! Definitely don’t take a knife to it — they’re such cool insects…

  17. 17 tony September 4, 2007 at 7:43 am

    Heh i just seen one Sat night,we were bar hopping,and at a stop light,Damn thing scared the hell out of me at first,it flew by the car,any i wanted to catch it,but my friends though it was a waste of time,im in dubuque IA i didnt think we had them here.

  18. 18 inadvertentgardener September 4, 2007 at 8:40 am

    Tony, I think they’re all over Iowa, but not for long — as soon as it gets cold, they’ll go away. Probably best that you didn’t try to catch it if you were bar hopping — praying mantises aren’t known for buying their fair share of rounds, really…

  19. 19 Mishi November 15, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Love them!! Hey, I’ve got a question for you. I grew up with the Manti and we used to bring them inside to hang out on the plants. They ate all the icky spiders and became part of the fam. Now, 25 years later, my boyfriend and I caught a couple in our back yard and brought them in and placed them on our (huge) plants. The plants get watered all the time and there are plently of little fruit flies or what have you on the plants. That said, I found two of their little carcases and can’t figure out why they passed. There’s a big daddy in my back yard right now. I don’t want the birds to eat him but am afraid to bring him in to whatever doom the last two met. Any advice?

  20. 20 inadvertentgardener November 16, 2007 at 1:00 am

    Mishi, that’s a really good question — I actually am not sure. Depends on where you live, too — I think they start dying when the weather gets cold? But I’m not totally sure…

  21. 21 mark March 16, 2008 at 8:25 am

    hi pick up a few nests are these guys indangered? i live in n.y rememered as a kid they were. an you’d get fined if you hurt one. get back. thanks mark.

  22. 22 inadvertentgardener March 16, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Mark, I am not sure if they’re endangered or not…I haven’t ever heard that. But I can’t imagine hurting one — they’re way too cool for that!

  23. 23 shirley October 1, 2008 at 7:54 am

    iI LOVE THE MANTIS, I TOOK SO MANY PICS OF HIM LAST NITE AND IT POSED SO SWEETLY. I WOULD LIKE INFO OF KEEPING HIM IN HOUSE OVER THE WINTER IN MY PLANTS. ANY SUGESSTIONS?
    can anyone help.
    thanks a bunch
    shirl

  24. 24 inadvertentgardener October 9, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Shirl, they’re sweet, but they’re wild — wouldn’t it be better to keep it outside where it would be happier?

    In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue the conversation over at my updated blog, http://www.theinadvertentgardener.com.


  1. 1 The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on September 8, 2006 at 12:49 pm
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