As I left the Arboretum’s visitor center on Sunday, I noticed a crowd gathered around a shrub. It took me a second to see the shockingly large Chinese mantid (Tenodera aridifolia) that was the subject of everyone’s attention.
This praying mantis was larger than my hand. It had landed on someone’s leg and she had the peace of mind to place it on the shrub, where it stood still for many minutes.
I didn’t let summer’s final gasp of heat and humidity deter me from a walk in the Arboretum on Wednesday, although, after a month-long break in 90-degree heat, I felt like I was experiencing the first hot day of the season. I spotted a nursery web spider (Pisaurina mira) biding its time under a leaf. Note how it rests with its two front legs touching each other.
This spider has a dark stripe running down the middle that is bordered by a white margin, which undulates along its abdomen. Also note the white hairs along its body and the black spines on its legs.
Exploring in the meadow of the Arnold Arboretum last weekend, I came upon this giant water bug (Belostoma sp.). This large insect — they named it “giant” for a reason — preys on creatures as large as small fish. It can inflict a very painful bite, and so is also called toe biter. Thanks to John Epler for the ID.