There's always a story to a surprise shot, isn't there?

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Uploaded 6 Oct 2017 — 1 favorite
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© May Lattanzio
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

And so this is the story of..A once in a lifetime catch.

Between the fence and the road there is an easement. Most of the time the county mows it even in winter, and I get angry. If the daisy-type flowers (Spanish Needles) are allowed to grow along with other native plants like native morning glories. goldenrod and mahogany vine, I get all sorts of insects and the smaller beasties in there, from aphids who are teeny tiny to anoles to grasshoppers, bees, wasps and flies, dragonflies and many varieties of butterflies and day flying moths. It is a nectar plant for all, excellent for predators to explore and all of the above are pollinators.

For two days I have seen this praying mantis. He hasn't changed his woodland camouflage but last night he did have a section of its second pair of legs that was green. Usually they blend in so you really have to look in the leaves. I thought he'd be green by morning.

I also found a very large, probably pregnant (gravid) White-banded crab spider. Her photo is here in my recent additions.

I watched her for a week and she didn't leave her original Spanish Needle flowers which she had sewn together, except to move nextdoor on a tall, sturdier wild plant. I looked for her tonight and I think the praying mantis may have gotten her today. She was there when I checked the mail, very obviously large and white and slow moving.

So I came to look this evening and the praying mantis had a black bee in his "hands", chewing it up. My camera battery went dead and I ran in to change it. By the time I got back out, not far from my mailbox, the carcass was half gone and it continued to eat. And then while he was hanging there on the pink and yellow lantana plant, a Long-tailed Blue Skipper butterfly came to the same flower head, next to my "No Mow" sign! I thought the mantis would drop the bee and catch and eat the butterfly! But the skipper went on its way safely, for another day.

This is why I made the "No Mow" sign! These creatures need food! Food to hibernate in burrows, crevices in tree bark, in nests made of leaves, under the soil, in flower pots and wherever else they hide. And then there are the migrants...flying to Mexico - all flying somewhere south for the winter. All around you life is getting sleepy and making a push for food.

If you see a patch of wildflowers, walk in and watch for a while. It can get very exciting. Big drama out of very small characters.

Written 10/3/2017

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