Monday, August 27, 2012

Chinese Mantis, on catnip

A chinese mantis, Tenodera aridifolia sinensis, commands a lofty lookout atop a spikelet of catnip, Nepeta cataria. Neither plant nor beast is native here, but both have their uses. These mantids can attain an almost frightening size, and the field that I found myself in last night was full of them.

I'm not a huge fan of nonnative mantids, which probably haven't helped our native insect fauna. Some people think that they've detrimentally impacted populations of native mantids, such as the beautiful Carolina mantis, Stagmomantis carolina (CLICK HERE). On the upside, chinese mantids can serve as a spark to trigger interest in insects, as people are naturally fascinated by the huge alien-looking bruisers.

Catnip, of course, has plenty of fans too. Most of them tend to have four legs and meow. This intoxicating mint is a fairly common weed, although more along the lines of an occasionally encountered curiosity rather than a full-blown invasive, at least in these parts. If you've got felines, grab a few stems of wild-growing catnip if you find some. Your cats will go whack over the stuff.

1 comment:

jaredmizanin said...

Cool stuff! I found a mint a week or so back that I thought might be catnip, but after conferring with a naturalist it turned out to be hairy wood-mint. Still looking to try out catnip with our felines should I ever find some :)