I've always been somewhat perturbed by mantids because, back in the day when I was a kid in Taiwan, they were these large, tropical-looking, none-to-friendly types and one gnarly dude actually bit me. Ouch! Couple that with the fact that they look much too much like grasshoppers, which are my ultimate, phobia-inducing nemeses. Our native California mantid is a regular here in La Cresta, especially during our warmer summer months. They are attracted to light and often find a way to get into the house during the evenings to flutter around one of our ceiling can lights. What's cool about these guys is that they are on the small side, usually no more than 2" in length, so I can totally deal with that. And, unlike grasshoppers, they are carnivorous, feeding on grasshoppers (YES!!!) and other insect pests.
7/25/14 California Mantid (Stagmomantis californica).