I went to Nasketucket, possibly for the last time this year, in search of praying mantises. The end of the summer/start of fall is their season; at least it’s when they are big enough to spot. The first half of my walk, I spotted only one, and was getting concerned that my 45-year-old, never-particularly-good eyes were starting to fail me.
On the walk back, however, I fared much better, partly because of the direction of the sun.
I should also give myself a break, because praying mantises are never easy to spot. They’re well-camouflaged, and they stay stock-still, waiting for their prey to come within snatching distance. But once you learn their body shape and where they are likely to be (and the light is right), you have an easier time picking them out from their surroundings.
But… I had an unexpected high when I spotted a female laying eggs on a branch, which I’d never witnessed before. I saw what I thought looked like a praying mantis’s eggsack, although the shape seemed a bit off. When I zoomed in, I realized why: the female was still in the process of laying her eggs!
As I’ve found with most of nature, it was cool but oogy. Or oogy but cool. (Twice this year I got to see a monarch caterpillar transform into a chrysalis, and it’s science-fiction oogy, but still a cool thing to see.)