When I was a kid, we had ground mantids in our yard. I didn’t really know that’s what they were back then, only that they were smaller and more elusive than the ones that lived in the bushes, and they ran really fast with their bodies held close to the ground, like tiny lizards.
I have seen very few ground mantids since then. My favorite sighting was in my beloved Death Valley, on my birthday, about 10 years ago. While exploring along the outskirts of a cinder cone, I spied some tiny mantids running on the sandy-lava soil. I marveled at their tiny size, considering it was November, and wondered whether they were young nymphs that hatched after the hottest part of the year had passed, or if they were adults, which most other mantids would surely be by this time of year. If they were adults, they were super small.
Unfortunately, this was before we had entered the age of digital cameras, and this was the best picture we were able to get at the time. I sent a copy of the photo to Death Valley, with a note asking for information about the mantid, but in the reply, they said they didn’t know anything about it. I can hardly believe it, but I haven’t even been back to DV since then. It’s been way too long. I dream of going back and finding the little desert mantids again.
A few years ago, I found more ground mantids on our trip to Paradise. I was able to catch one and photograph it through the jar.