Briones Regional Park is a great place to find wild Mantis religiosa, as we’ve done many times in the past, even using them as “therapy insects” afterwards. They aren’t native to California, but immigrated here long enough ago — probably a century — to count as locals by now. Today we caught three of the big adults in the tall grass along Alhambra Valley and brought them home. We are familiar with these insects and have had them at home for years — sometimes they come wandering across my desk!

As soon as we got these three home today, we put them in a large, mesh cage on the balcony with some potted plants inside, along with a few grasshoppers (their preferred dinner in the wild). Right away, the two males made their moves on the female. One began mating with her immediately, while the second male approached and then climbed on, too. Carrying both of them on her back (she’s much larger and stronger than they are), she crawled about the cage and even caught and ate a grasshopper, which may have been a relief to the males, as sometimes female praying mantises eat their mates.

Mantis religiosa female 2

This female mantis can’t fly as she is too heavy. The slender, smaller males fly about in search of her.

Mantis religiosa femaleIMG_1331IMG_1336

First male in place

Within minutes of our arrival one of the males climbed onto the female to mate with her.

Two males

Soon after that, a second male climbed aboard!

Carrying two males

The female is big and strong enough that she carried both males on her back as she crawled around the cage.

Eating a grasshopper

Mother-to-be or not, she’s still a predator, and caught and ate this grasshopper while mating.

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