I call "dibs" on the first garden mantids of spring!
There is this egg case in the crepe myrtle tree in my front yard. Just above eye-level, and I have been keeping my eye on it this past week, with the weather warming up. March used to be too early for mantids to hatch, but not anymore. Sure enough, this afternoon I noticed that some had hatched. A few were scattered among the empty dried seedpods on the still leafless branches. There is no food for them there. (the leaves will not start budding until next month, with full coverage in May. That's when the mantids are supposed to hatch. They used to, anyway...)
Others have ventured precariously to other nearby plants with better prospects
In the tiny white flowers, a tiny mantid is hunting.
There are aphids nearby. Hopefully he will find his way to them.
Across a small span of lawn, this flower holds a just-hatched katydid.
It sits just inches away from where another mantid rests on a leaf. (the one at the top of this post)