October 8, 2008
We awoke early this morning to take out the garbage and noticed the numerous Painted Arachnis Moths on the screen door. The Santa Ana winds are blowing and moths get quite plentiful when that happens. Something flew from the door as we opened it and our first thought was that it was an Angular Winged Katydid. Imagine our shocked surprise to find this wonderful California Mantis, Stagmomantis californica, perched on the porch light. In the 13 1/2 years we have lived in Mt Washington, this is a first for our yard. We have seen occasional Mantids in the vicinity, and at work, but never in the yard. According to Charles Hogue in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin: “The species prefers an arboreal habitat and is primarily found on shrubs of the Coastal Sage plant community. Males are often attracted to lights.” We rushed to get the camera to document this garden first for us.
Yes, you have there a male mantis of the genus Stagmomantis. Males are much smaller than females. You probably were remembering the big Chinese mantids or European mantids from back in Ohio; both are introduced (non-native) species.
Update: October 9, 2008
Eric reminded us that we never mentioned that our little male California Mantis is only about two inches long. He was still on the porch light when we returned from work after sunset last evening, and he remains in place this morning. Curiously, our good friend Helene who lives in nearby Glassell Park emailed us about the mantis that appeared on her porch the same day ours appeared. She promises to send a photo today.