Sep 24, 2010

Critters in the Gardens

I am a person who can get over-the-top excited and happy about a bug.
A praying mantis to be precise. (if you're freaked out by mantises, scroll down to the tiny amazing gold beetle instead :)
A few weeks ago I was having a very glum day and sat down on the steps outside.  Something made me look down to my right and I gasped!  A beautiful praying mantis was sitting in a plant less than foot from my leg!
I put down my hand and it crawled on.

Look at those amazing segmented antennae!

I was in heaven and just sat there for ages looking at how incredibly delicate and intricate it's body was.
It never ceases to amaze me that such an effective predator can be so calm and gentle with humans!  I have caught and held mantises (mantii?) since childhood and have never had one show aggression toward me though I have heard it can happen.  The word 'caught' is actually misleading because when I put my hand in front of them, they simply crawl onto it. :-)

tickly little feet :-)

It also kind of amazes me that I can enjoy such a big bug and not get creeped out.
Mantises enjoy crawling up which meant that it wanted to crawl over my face to sit in my hair.  Except for a butterfly, there is no way I would let any other bug that big do such a thing!  And not many small bugs either.

Also seen in my garden recently was an amazing tiny beetle that looked like it was made of liquid gold.
Unfortunately, the macro function on my camera didn't work (it has since been taken to the camera graveyard) but I'll include this picture anyway in case anyone can help me identify this shiny little bug:
To be honest I think it is the one that has been chewing huge holes in my morning glory leaves but I don't mind. :-)

UPDATE: I found out that this beetle is the fascinating Golden Tortoise Beetle - it can actually change colour!  So cool :-)

The day before yesterday I was sitting on the steps with my (indoor) cat, giving him some fresh air.  We were lucky enough to see a big grey mouse run around the corner and disappear under the steps below my feet!  In broad daylight.  Very happy cat ;-)

Then yesterday, most wonderful, sitting in the same spot... we saw a HUGE TOAD.  Likely the biggest toad I've seen in my life.  As big as my fist, more than 3" long, about 2 feet away from my feet and not minding our presence one bit. (once again my cat was pretty happy about this)
It was feasting on big flying ants that have been all over the place recently.  Toads are so cute and funny when they eat.
No photos I'm afraid.
A neat toad fact I hadn't known before today: when growing, toads shed their skin!  Every few weeks!  (and they shed it in one piece and eat it... ick).

I get so excited about critters in the garden


  1. You have encountered the neatest bugs, Liberty! I would love to hold a praying mantis and so would both of my daughters. They always look so prim and proper to me, especially in your first photo. A marvel to behold! (The gold beetle is pretty awesome too!)

  2. hi Christie,

    I'm so glad to hear you and your daughters would enjoy holding one too! This is the first one I've seen inside a town for so long. I may order an egg pod of them next spring to make it more likely for them to be around. If I find a good Ontario supplier, would you like me to let you know? (they are good for pest control for the garden).

    You know... they do look prim and proper! I never thought of that until reading your words :-)

  3. p.s. another really cool looking beetle that was here earlier this year was the Dogbane Leaf Beetle. So amazingly beautiful that I couldn't believe it! (also eating my morning glory leave LOL)

  4. I think your beetle is on this link:

    I Love praying mantises & I think your pictures of both it And the beetle are amazing!

    Cool about the toad & mouse.

    Great photos! !


  5. thanks Katie!
    it is, indeed the Golden Tortoise Beetle! such a cool name for such a cool beetle.
    it's head and all legs were under the protection of it's 'shell'.

  6. I love praying mantis...we've had two visit our windows of the apartment in the last few weeks. Glad for your bugs and other visitors...((hugs))

  7. wow Rachel! how wonderful to have 2 of them come right to your apartment windows! That seems so special to me - like they were somehow coming out of their natural element to visit you!
    thank you for sharing that - I've got a big grin on my face :)
    ((hugs back))

  8. i loved seeing your pics and hearing about your time with the "critters." they are fascinating to observe. not sure i'm brave enough yet to let a praying mantis climb on me, though - thanks for letting me do it vicariously through you!

  9. Thank you Stacy. I'm glad I could be a vicarious mantis holder for you! :-)

  10. I love these pics and your post... Praying Mantis reminds me of innocence... and the beetle- so much, such a powerful symbolic being... how they have those shells, to cover their small wings, but they FLY and they transform, and are so ancient... I love beetles of all kinds, but have never seen a gold one! How beautiful. Thanks for sharing :)

  11. thanks for commenting Lauren.
    This kind of beetle is truly SO cool!
    so much symbolism in the way they can transform.
    if you go to this link:
    you can read more and see a much better photo than the one I have above.


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