Spring is swiftly fading into summer here in the Northeastern U.S. The bear has been rummaging through the garbage cans and keeping the neighborhood dogs howling all night. The chipmunks have been stealing as much birdfeed as their little mouths can carry. Even the humming birds have come back from their winter holiday and are buzzing about the newly filled feeder. The mild winter, and unseasonably warm spring have brought about some unexpected changes. The blueberry and raspberry bushes are hanging heavily with developing fruit, and the strawberries have begun ripening a full month early. The young trees in our new orchard are leafing out beautifully, and the asparagus have already pushed their odd purple noses up out of the soil. The ferns at the creek side are reaching amazing heights. It looks as though the summer of 2012 will be a time of great beauty and unusual sights. Sights like a blue heron with wings outstretched preparing for flight, huge spiders tucked neatly into their hiding places around the doors of the shed, pileated woodpeckers soaring above the forest in search of dying trees to pulverize, large flocks of red-headed, turkey vultures making nightly trips to their favorite roosts, and this little fellow.
I was lounging on the porch watching the birds this morning when my eyes began to play tricks on me. A piece of the ancient, wood trim appeared to be crawling away! Further investigation revealed this friendly, extremely unusual insect. He is 1 3/4 inches long and has the calm, majestic movements of a praying mantis. He didn’t even mind being transported from the porch to a rock so that I could photograph him. I have lived in this area all of my life and spent untold hours hiking in the forest and have never seen one of these. Does anyone out there have an idea what kind of beetle this is?