I was out shooting at sunrise the other morning and things were cool and covered with dew. Along a path through a grassy open area, I spotted a praying mantis.
This was the first adult mantis I had seen this year so I was excited to get some photos of it. I have always been very fascinated by praying mantises. Maybe some of that comes from growing up in Minnesota and never actually seeing one until I moved to southern Iowa. Last summer was the first time I had ever seen a mantis and the awe has not worn off yet. This one was definitely interested in my camera and jumped onto the lens and flash numerous times as I shot.
After putting it back on the leaves a couple times, it calmed down and set to work meticulously cleaning all of its legs. It didn’t seem to mind having its picture taken which was a pleasant surprise – mantises are often a little skittish of things getting too close. They are interesting insects to watch since they almost seem to be intelligent, like a Jurassic Park Velociraptor. For an insect, a praying mantis is quite visibly aware of its surroundings and if you’re watching one, it is watching you too.
Mantises will start becoming more conspicuous in August and September when the females need to consume a lot of food before they lay their eggs. They’ll be easily seen hanging out on the tops of plants and flowers as they capture as much prey as they can.