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Mysteries of the front porch

Our front porch doesn’t get much traffic: the occasional UPS guy, guy leaving door hangers flogging local pizza joints, signature-gatherer, political candidate, stranger, or neighbor will come down our sunbaked, overgrown front walk, all the way from the street to the garage to the front door.  But not very often.  The back door is where most of our domestic foot traffic flows.

I should clarify: by “foot traffic” I’m talking about during the day, and bipedal mammalian feet, unless it’s an occasional Cactus wren gleaning the crevices behind the Mexican metal cat mask or the Talavera wall planter with plastic cactus replicas.

At night it’s a different story.  The front porch is where it’s at.  It’s because of the porch light, and the overhang, and the textured vertical surfaces.  All these features seem to have combined to create an ideal locale for a night time hangout, part snack bar, part thoroughfare, and part pick-up joint.  Moths, beetles, and a host of night-flying insects are drawn to the light, while in turn cellar spiders, lacewings, huntsman spiders (big!), geckos and other predators lurk too, waiting for a slip-up among the herds of prey.

<< Praying mantis on the screen door (photo A.Shock)

Last night, we had a small native desert praying mantis on the screen door, swivelling its big-eye head in the dim light.  In real life these aren’t blue, of course (that’s just photo-artsiness to distract from the low-light graininess in my shot) — or green like the giant asian species people buy online to release for garden pest control. These little ones are grayish brown, and this one is full grown at under two inches.  These are the guys whose breadloaf-like eggcases we find in the yard (or, once, in the house on a plant we took in for the winter; the hatchling mantids are green).

Love the mantis!  Or, if you’re very small, fear the mantis!

Posted by Allison on Jun 5th 2012 07:31 am | 4 Comments
| View close in,cool bug!,Invertebrata,natural history,yard list category

4 Responses to “Mysteries of the front porch”

  1. robertaon 05 Jun 2012 at 1:33 pm link comment

    I once had two of these on my front porch. A male and you guessed it, his wife. Or soon to be ex-wife as she proceeded to devour him from the head down. It was a disturbing sight. Yet I couldn’t look away. I was so close I could have stopped it. But I didn’t. I think she knew I was watching her. It was a sight I never forgot even though it happened almost 40 years ago. Weird creatures.

  2. Allisonon 05 Jun 2012 at 4:20 pm link comment

    Roberta, that’s a cool if disturbing tale. I’m glad you left them to do their thing. That’s the way it goes… and head down seems merciful, somehow!

  3. robertaon 06 Jun 2012 at 9:38 am link comment

    OH yes, merciful………get it over with fast….

  4. […] and under the fluorescent bulb the front porch metamorphoses into a feeding and mating hotspot.  Mantids, huntsmen, sunspiders, cellar spiders, a variety of moths and other jointleggedies and geckos  […]

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