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This praying mantis has been a regular in our yard for the last few weeks.

praying mantis

praying mantis egg case

It might have hatched out of an egg case like this one.

Here's a short video of a praying mantis hatching. As you can see, newly-hatched praying mantids look like miniature adults.

Edit:

Just found a cool new book recommended by the NSTA.

Praying Mantises: Hungry Insect Heroes (Insect World)
by Sandra Markle

So, mantises is the correct plural now? I had learned it as mantids...

Most of you probably recognize this little insect as a praying mantis. But can you tell how small it is? The milkweed flower bud next to it is roughly 1/3 inch long.

The praying mantis is looking for an insect to eat. As it eats and grows, it will shed its exoskeleton or outer "skin." Unlike some insects that change a lot when they grow, the mantis will stay about the same. The biggest change will be that it will have wings when it becomes an adult.

Notice the triangle-shaped head with the large eyes. Those eyes could definitely see me trying to take its picture. It kept hiding behind the flower buds, so I had trouble getting a good photo.

Also notice the front legs tucked up under its body. The praying part of the mantis name comes from that posture. It actually uses those legs to grab prey.

praying mantis nymph