Praying Mantis ( Mantidae ) on Blue Flax ( Linum perenne )

Praying Mantis (Mantidae) on Blue Flax (Linum perenne)

In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.
— Patti Smith, Early Work, 1970-1979

This afternoon I found and photographed a Spined Micrathena (Micrathena gracilis) suspended from its web in our woodland garden. I made a handful of pictures; none of which pleases me. I will have to try again tomorrow.

As I walked the hedgerow from the woodland garden toward the pollinator garden Benjamin followed..."Look," he said, pointing to the tangle of flax at my feet. I searched among the dried seedheads and blue blossoms unable to see what he was seeing. "What?"

A mantis. I was delighted! Usually we find at least one egg case (ootheca) each spring and we eagerly await the emergence of the mantid. This year we found none! I had discovered a single nymph a few weeks ago but until today we had not seen any mature mantid. This one measured around three inches...and blended perfectly into the wispy needle-like leaves of our flax.  

Jessica Allen explores the fields and forests of Pennsylvania with her artist-husband, Michael Allen, and their son, Benjamin. She shares her observations through words and pictures of everyday magic and beauty she sees in her world.