The different colors of the mantis

I've found several mantises in my garden over the last couple of days. Since I released dozens of them as babies this spring and dozens more hatched "in the wild", I shouldn't be surprised when I find them in the garden.

I am surprised though, and delighted, as these are one of my favorite insects! Although I don't know that I'd say that this species is strictly a "beneficial" insect (when it's living on a plant that is heavily visited by bees, what do you think it's eating every day?) I certainly would be sad if a summer went by and I didn't see a few of these around.


One of the most interesting things about them is the way they can adjust their coloration. I don't mean like a cuttlefish or chameleon, changing colors and patterns quickly. I'm talking about letting the plant that they grow up on influence their final pigmentation (adaptive melanism).

I'm pretty sure that all of the mantises in my garden are the same species (Carolina mantis), so let's see the range of colors I've found, starting with the light brown one above that was trying to hide in the purple fountain grass recently.

Pale green is good when you're hiding in a variegated grass like Miscanthus 'Silberpfeil':

The back of this one is a more "creamy" green -- you can
see a hint of this on the edge of its body by the legs.

And it's best to not be a solid color when you're hiding in dappled light (or maybe you're just indecisive?)

How are you looking at me through the "back" of your eyes?!

When you're sitting on a twig or a branch, you should look like a twig or a branch, right?

I'll always be fascinated by these creatures, and am so glad that their camouflage isn't perfect -- or I'd never be able to find them!

Have you been finding any mantises in your garden this summer?


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outlawgardener  – (August 27, 2014 at 10:12 AM)  

Wow, I didn't know about their ability to do this! They're beautiful, whatever color. None in my garden this year. I've purchased the egg cases before and only once had much luck with them. I think it needs to be warmer sooner in the year for them to happily hatch. Maybe I'll try hatching them inside next year.

Mark and Gaz  – (August 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM)  

Fascinating creatures, they look so cool! Wish we had mantises in our garden...

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