Here are two cool bugs for your enjoyment! The first is a very captivating fellow. A small, stocky caterpillar that belongs in a group call slug moth caterpillars. The name of this group comes from the fact that they do not have any prolegs to move about with. When the travel, the really look like they are just gliding or sliding along the leaf.
The other cool thing about this group of caterpillars is that they all possess stinging hairs. Don't Touch! The sting from these guys can be unpleasant. The picture below shows off those stinging hairs pretty well.
So this guy is the Saddleback caterpillar. His brown saddle is well placed in the center of his back, surrounded by a smooth blanket of lime green. A handsome devil! Saddlebacks are generalists, meaning that they can and do ear a wide variety of plants. I found this guy on a spicebush but commonly see them on redbud. I have even found them on the corn leaves in my veggie garden.
Another cool bug is one we are all familiar with. The Praying Mantis. There are many different species of mantids and can be found all over the world. The one were are most likely to see around here is this one, an Asian species.
These large insects are often used in garden settings to help control pests. However, these big mantids will eat anything they can catch. They don't care if it is a "good" bug or a "bad" bug. I can't say I've ever seen one at night. This guy (or girl) was hanging out near my front porch light. No doubt waiting for some moth or other unsuspecting morsel to come within its reach. The thing that really caught my attention was its eyes! Of course in the daytime those large eyes are the same green as the body to help camouflage the insect. But with the light from the porch shining on it, the eyes were a really cool black!
And probably my favorite thing about mantids is all the 'tude they can give you! :)