What? Tired of shorebirds and rarities? Time to get back to a little botany? Mr. P. Mantis thought so as well.
Recently seen in the outback of Shawnee State Forest, this photographic fellow was just too adorable to pass by. These praying mantids have been Weedpicker's favorite ever since a "hatch" of about 100,000 of the alien-looking creatures created total mayhem in my third grade class. We were finally ushered outside for an early recess while the janitor was called in to corral the wandering nymphs- to take them to a nice zoo. Hey, that is what they told us he would do with them!
While this praying mantis is not an Ohio native, the plant Ironweed, Vernonia altissima is a commonly occurring native plant. Readily found in ditches and road sides, this 4-8 foot plant makes a striking specimen in butterfly gardens and meadows. While it may not be easy to find in the nursery trade, it is easy to cultivate, and is a great attractant for butterflies and bees. Mr. Mantis thought it was delightful as well.