Look who I found prowling among the green beans this morning:
With that green stripe along its side and its rather large size (a good 4 inches at least), I'm pretty sure this is a Chinese Mantis (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis, or just Tenodera sinensis). Even though this is an introduced species, everyone seems to be pretty welcoming of these guys -- I was certainly happy to see this creature, since they're such good predators of insects that would otherwise devour my garden plants. Plus, they're just so cool looking! I had a great photo shoot with this big guy, since he (I think this is a male, with that slender abdomen) followed me curiously as I walked all around him.
There are several species of mantises native to North America, but not many that live as far north as Connecticut. Strangely enough, Connecticut's state insect is another species of non-native mantis, the European Mantis (also called the Praying Mantis, Mantis religiosa), which can be identified by a circular (sometimes bulls-eye-like) black spot on the upper-inside of the mantis's front legs.
I'm enjoying the sleek elegance of this Chinese Mantis, and I can only imagine the power that must be in those clasping arms.
This creature didn't catch any meals while I was there (he was too busy watching me), but there's plenty of food out there for him. Happy hunting, Mr. Mantis!