Critter Catchup

Besides the mantis, grasshopper, and caterpillars I talked about yesterday, I've seen some pretty interesting insects over the last week. Some you may find to be creepy, some may be cute, but I hope you give them all at least a quick look.

First up is the last one I saw. This was on my mailbox yesterday morning, and it's colors really got my attention. I believe it's a type of assassin bug (which I've posted about before) but I've not seen this type before.


He is only about an inch long and was pretty shy, moving away from me as soon as I got the camera in position. I had to snap some quick shots, hoping the focus was correct. He wasn't very fast, but moved enough to make my job harder.

He soon moved off the mailbox and onto the post trying to get away from me, so I left him along. I don't know if insects can feel stress, but I didn't want to cause this one any more.

When I was looking for the grasshopper in my bamboo the other day, I found a curled leaf. Normally curled bamboo leaves mean that the plant needs water. In this case though, there was something different about this particular leaf tube:

It has some sort of nest in it! Unrolling the leaf shows just how cool it is:

I suspect this was created by a mud dauber wasp, but from what I've read they normally attach their nests to something more sturdy, so I'm not sure. I don't know if the hole in the side is the normal escape route for the emerging wasp, or if something bad happened to it.

The other day I was removing spent blooms from some of my other butterfly bushes, and found some interesting creatures:

First, a praying mantis. You'll be seeing more photos of mantises in the next month or two, as I'll be seeing them everywhere.

After hatching in the late spring, they're usually pretty-well camouflaged until late summer when they start looking for mates. There are several different species of praying mantis in the United States, but the Carolina mantis, European mantis, and Chinese mantis are some of the most common. I'm not sure which species this one is.

The next critter I encountered on these bushes was this little inchworm on my arm:

I'm sure there are dozens (hundreds?) of different types of small caterpillars like this throughout my yard, but I only notice them when they fall or climb onto me.

"I'm not a caterpillar, I'm just a non-edible little twig!"  it froze into this position as soon as I got it back onto the bush.

The last creature I discovered while pruning takes us a little bit into "creepy" territory, especially if you don't like spiders:

It's a spider that has caught a small moth. I don't know what type of spider, and I don't know what type of moth, so let's move on.

This is a very interesting little spider I noticed while resting from some rhizome pruning I did last weekend:

I'm not sure what's in the big webby clump, but this guy won't leave it alone. In fact, he's making a new web around it -- I must have destroyed the old one when I was working.

The best thing about this spider is the interesting shape of his abdomen. It almost looks like a shell of some sort, like the spider is a tiny hermit crab:

Now that I look at it more, it seems to me that the big ugly clump of web-covered "stuff" could just be a source of camouflage. When the spider is next to it, the color and pattern on its body matches the "clump" quite well.

The insects and spiders I find in my garden are so interesting! Before I started gardening I never imagined that such a variety of unique creatures would populate it. I'm glad they do.

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