A half frozen female Praying Mantis was found in our garden. She at first appeared dead but then we noticed her slender antennae moving ever so slightly though and when the sun peaked out from the corner of our house she began to revive.
Praying Mantids do not survive New England winters. The one in our garden is a female. You can tell because her abdomen has six segments, whereas a male Praying Mantis has eight segments. She may be pregnant. Wouldn’t it be fun to find her egg case?!
Female with six abdominal sections
Praying Mantis go through incomplete metamorphosis. Unlike butterflies, which undergo complete metamorphosis, Praying Mantis skip the caterpillar stage. Tiny young Praying Mantis that look identical to the adults, only smaller, will emerge next year from the egg case, called an ootheca.
Hosting Praying Mantis in your garden is reason number ten thousand why we do minimal tidying up of the garden in autumn. Her egg case is somewhere in the garden. Maintaining a garden for wild creatures means tolerating some disarray. By removing leaves, along with the physically disruptive act of raking, and by chopping down stalks, we are causing more harm than good even with the best of intentioned habitat gardens.
The graphic below illustrates how to tell the difference between the two species of Praying Mantis found in New England, the Carolina Mantis and Chinese Mantis, which is introduced and by far the most commonly seen.