Christopher Tozier is the author of Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus, the award-winning, middle-grade fantasy series set in the wilds of central Florida and published by Pineapple Press. He was selected as a 2011 State of Florida Artist Fellowship recipient and his poetry has appeared widely.
One of my favorite insects in the Florida scrub is the Grizzled Mantis (Gonatista grisea). Once in awhile, one shows up at a porch light, perhaps hunting the insects that congregate there. Notice how he disappears on the bark of a sand pine.
The Grizzled Mantis is a lichen mimic, blending in perfectly with sand pine bark; our predominant pine. The scalloped edges on their abdomen and broken line patterns allow this ambush predator to hide from birds, larger insects, and their prey.
One year, after a hurricane knocked over an old sand pine across our road, I was sawing the tree into pieces with a hand bow saw (chainsaw in pieces on the garage floor). This particular sand pine had a lot of green lichen. My sawing disturbed a green and grey grizzled mantis from its hiding spot. He was quite beautiful and an indication of how much color variability these insects have. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me.