Carolina Mantis Nymph

Less than 7 mm long, this newly emerged mantis nymph is already “praying” — or, rather, preying — standing in a high spot and waving gently back and forth like the stick it will someday resemble, waiting for something interesting to fly in reach.

I can’t be 100% sure with a single photo of a teeny, immature insect, but I’m pretty sure this is a Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina). Carolina mantis are brown, gray, or green, and can actually vary their color between molts for better camouflage.

These guys are voracious predators of all sorts of pest species and the eggs, or oothecae, are sold in garden supply centers for pest control. The young mantids hatch in the spring, tiny copies of the adults and ready to hunt.

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