Something beneficial: Praying mantis

The other evening, I stepped out to purge my pathway of spotted spurge. And as I did a little deadheaing of the Rudbeckias, I noticed something:

praying mantis

A praying mantis.

These are terrific insects to have in the garden. Beyond being fascinating to watch, they eat other insects that are less desirable, such as aphids and grasshoppers. They also eat beneficial insects like lacewings and ladybugs, but as I have far more aphids than lacewings, I feel positive on balance about this fellow’s presence.

praying mantis closeup

Their heads can apparently swivel 180 degrees to watch their prey, and they have a visual range of up to 65 feet. These predatory insects typically eat their prey alive, although if the prey vigorously resists, the mantis will often start with its victim’s head in order to make the meal a bit more relaxing.

I couldn’t discern what this fellow was watching, but I wouldn’t want to be it, whatever it was.

praying mantis recumbent