Sorry for the blurry picture, but this
is was our new pet, Mortimer the Mantis.
The critters came out late this summer, but in full force, and for some reason we always seem to catch the ones that have a pre-existing condition. We caught a fabulous caterpillar one day, and the next morning when I went outside to take its picture it had already made itself a little cocoon.
A few days later Jason caught the kids a praying mantis. The closer I looked at it I realized it very much resembled the pregnant mantis we had last year that ended up laying eggs in the bug catcher. So when we went out to the bus stop the next morning and found Mortimer, we were able to convince Xander to let the female one go for the sake of the babies.
Mortimer was probably the biggest praying mantis I've ever seen. It made me think of the Orkin commercials where the giant pests come and greet the homeowners.
He was feisty, too. Not content with his sticks, grass or water that we provided, he would actually knock on the door. A day or so later we came outside and got excited because we found another mantis above the front door. Then we realized Mortimer was gone. He somehow got the door open, escaped, and got the door closed again. He was perched right there above the front door as if to taunt us. He would even look at us if we called his name.
Another caterpillar has since come along and he, too, has made a cocoon in our bug catcher. So we have two bug catchers side by side on the front porch that Jordis checks on every day. We did a little unit on caterpillars one day while Xander was at school and this was her craft.
She was pretty proud.