A few days ago a wild praying mantis appeared on my front porch here on the ranch, perched on the edge of a plastic water tray under a potted plant. I’d been told that praying mantises existed here in rural southern Oregon, but had never seen one during nearly ten years of living here. I take alot of walks and am outside quite a bit, but they are pretty well camouflaged.
She (I assume it is a she, although I’d be hard pressed to prove it) was about four inches long.
A few years ago I saw a praying mantis one evening, hanging around a light outside my hotel room in rural Alabama somewhere — that one was magnificent, about nine inches long and with a distinct “don’t mess with me if you know what’s good for you” attitude. It looked big enough to catch and eat one of the little bats circling around scooping up the flies and moths attracted by the light.
This praying mantis on my porch was quite a bit smaller but still fierce-looking and predatory. Her head swiveled around to track me for a few seconds when I got near her to take this photo; after that she just ignored me. In a daring mood, I touched her back with my finger, but she just kept right on dismissing me as unimportant in her universe of catching and eating bugs. She hung around for a couple of hours and then the next time I checked she was gone, back into the wild where she belongs.