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The pet on our porch

When Jon and I let the dogs out before bedtime last night (that being our bedtime, hours after Calvin's), we found a new inhabitant on our front porch. It was cold last night, and I think most people would have gotten a laugh out of the two of us standing on the front porch in our pajamas, moving this way and that in order to see the mantis move his head to follow us. Hopefully at one o-clock in the morning most of our neighbors were in bed.

This morning the same guy was in the same place. Strange, because mantids are supposed to be masters of disguise, and this one was certainly not hard to spot. He spent most of the day with us, too, disappearing for an hour in the afternoon and returning before dinner (our dinner, that is). I haven't checked on him since but my guess is that he won't stay. There's only so much door opening and staring that one bug can take, after all.

What was cool about him being there morning, noon and night (aside from Calvin getting to see him since we obviously didn't wake him in those chilly wee hours) was getting to see the change in his eyes. Woah! That's a night and day difference! We did a little digging and found very little information, but we did learn that some insects with low light adaptations have a light-absorbing, protective pigment covering for their eyes that they engage in bright light situations. If that's the case, then the pigment takes time to engage, because he didn't respond to the porch light at all in the ten minutes we spent antagonizing him, but during the day he clearly changed something! We also learned that he is mostly a diurnal hunter and was likely just spending the night at our hotel. I wonder if he made reservations for tonight, too.

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