Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Large mantis found in Baldwin

October 15, 2003

Alan Gardner has seen his fair share of praying mantises. But until a few weeks ago, he had never seen one four inches long -- at least not in Kansas.

Gardner, who owns Mid-American Herbs on the former Maple Leaf Orchards site east of Baldwin, was mowing on his property when something large flew out in front of him.

"I actually thought it was a couple of big grasshoppers getting friendly," he said.

But when he took a closer look, he discovered that instead of grasshoppers, the flying object was actually a large mantis.

"I saw her there and I was just in awe," he said.

The brownish-green mantis measured about four inches in length, much larger than the one to two inches the typical mantis in Kansas gets.

"It's not the biggest in the world, but it's big for Kansas," he said.

He captured the mantis and released it in his greenhouse, he said, to help control insects. He recaptured the mantis a couple of weeks ago in an effort to try to identify it.

He called both Kansas University and Kansas State University. Both universities identified the insect as a Chinese Mantis and said none had ever been seen in Kansas. According to the universities, the Chinese mantis is more common in the northeastern part of the United States.

"They're probably just working their way this way," Gardner said.

Gardner plans to keep the Chinese mantis in his greenhouse. In fact, he said he has been researching the large mantises, and wants to propagate them to help control plant pests.

"I would like to get them started in this area," he said. "And they appear to be doing well since they're showing up here."

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