A couple evenings ago, I leashed up the dogs for their evening walk. I stepped out on the porch, looked up, and saw this:
Cool! Well, I thought it was cool, but Laura doesn't like insects much, and she REALLY doesn't like huge insects like this. I just left it alone, since praying mantises eat other insects and pests (although according to this, "larger species have been known to prey on small lizards, frogs, birds and even rodents.")
The next morning, the praying mantis was gone and there were very few insects hanging around my porch. The next evening I checked again, and sure enough, the insect was back, this time creeping up the side of the porch:
I haven't seen it again this evening, so maybe it has decided to lurk around someone else's house. Laura finds it disturbing, but I think it is kinda cool!
Minor update - there are a bunch of cool praying mantis photos on flickr here: