It's so nice to be able to stroll through the arboretum in the evening. There's hardly anybody there, the heat of the day is starting to dissipate, and the sun is low, making for some illuminating views of the plants.
This desert plant, in a color scheme of dull green and creamy white, has had a young mantid living in it for the last several weeks.
His coloring matches the creamy stuff.
Then there are these weedy, stalky plants with pinkish flower-heads. The plants attract a wide variety of bugs, which also make them good for finding mantids. (Update, 9-15-08: I have now been informed that these plants are called Marsh-Fleabane Pluchea odorata.)
The other night, I found 2 sub-adult female iris oratoria, who had apparently also found eachother. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will be able to make out the pale blue-ish one, highlighted in a circle to the left, and a second, greener one to the right. They are both in threat display postures.
Here's the green one. (Fuzzy due to low light conditions)
The blue girl.
She says, "I'm this big ... you'd better not mess with me!"
I gave her a little "goose" to make her jump onto another branch, hopefully far enough away from her rival.
Have I ever mentioned how bummed I am sometimes when I discover that one of my favorite bug-finding shrubs has been ravaged by well-meaning garden staffers? As I was inspecting this heavily pruned bush, I saw another mantis.
This one was an adult female Stagmomantis Californicus, the first I've seen at the arboretum in quite a while. Whether she had been dwelling in the previously leafy branches or had just arrived to blend in with the stubby sticks, I can't be sure.