Friday, September 26, 2014

European mantis ~ 09/26/14 ~ Cielo Blu Ranch

I was pleased as Punch to find this mantid.  Usually, if I find a butterfly being eaten, it's more likely to be a crab spider chowing down.  Interesting to note, I rarely find mantids these days, even though they're my favorite insect (eh-hem, not Lepidoptera) as evidenced by my 2nd grade show and tell story.  It's funny, after all these years, I'm essentially doing show and tell with my blog.  Thanks to researching links for this post, I discovered that the numerous mantids I found as a child around the family farm in the Central Valley were Mediterranean mantis (Iris oratoria), another non-native.  I'll admit, it would be awesome to find a native California mantid (Stagmomantis californica) in this very remote spot (read: far away from any wannabe garden do-gooders).  Do you think there would be more native mantids around had we not inadvertently introduced exotic spp. and now purposely sell and distribute them for pest control?  They do eat each other, after all.  Nom nom nom.

European mantis details: 65mm long with white spot bordered by black on inside front coxa

Mantis religiosa in praying position

Thursday, September 18, 2014

hooded owlet ~ 09/18/14 ~ at home

Cucullia sp. (Hodges 10180-10214)

I have to say, Andy is incredibly accommodating to my insect-rearing whims.  Twenty years ago, my ex threw a hissy fit for 2 weeks after I mentioned I wanted to bring home a couple silk moth caterpillars from class.  I never did.  I should have known right then that it wasn't going to work out.  Ha!  Anyways, Andy got home before I did and even though he was pressed for time to get to an evening meeting, he discovered Charlotte went on her walkabout and he went searching for her around the living room.  Oh my goodness.  He's seen me make these containers enough times that once he found Charlotte tucked under a cotton rug, he knew what to do.  Admittedly, he used an old gym sock instead of nylon (I changed it out before this pic), but he got the gist.  He said she held still for about 3 minutes and then in 30 seconds she was completely under.  That was way quicker than George's 10-15 minutes.  Plus, Andy added a little blue tab to show me exactly where Charlotte had dug herself in.  Good man.  In a few days, I may gently dig up George (on the left) just to document his turd shape with photos, and then return him to the soil.  I'll be setting these containers with papae outside for the winter so they'll develop naturally without the artificial influence of indoor warmth.  I just have to make sure to check on them come spring.  Sometimes I forget I even have them.  Oops.