Praying Mantis

So, by now you know my fascination with praying mantises. I think they are just the kookiest of creatures (I mean, just look at that face!) and I love seeing them in the garden.

As you may remember, the other day I found a large praying mantis in one of our gardenia's (here's the original post on that). It had just finished molting and when it dropped it's exoskeleton, it was a beautiful light green color. And, it was big! I didn't measure it, but I would guess it was easily 6 or 7 inches long (+ the full length of it's outstretched legs).

I could see that it had little wings (see photo below), so I figured it was fully grown. Once praying mantises grow wings, they are fully mature and will not molt again.

Praying Mantis Wing Buds

What a difference a day makes

What I didn't realize though, was that it's wings were folded up and would slowly straighten out as the mantis "hardened up" from it's last molt. This mantis stayed in our gardenia for a few days after molting and after a day or so, I noticed it's wings had finally straightened out and looked fully formed.

Look at the difference between the 2 photos of this mantid taken just a day apart from each other. In the photo above, the wings are folded and short. And, in the photo below, taken just a day later, the wings are long and reach down below the body of the mantis.

Praying Mantis with Wings

Aug 26 2013

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