For a while now, I have seen that some insect people on the Internet like to raise large insects like praying mantids and cockroaches as pets. There are even entire guides for how to raise them, like this one for mantids, detailing things like their life style and how to hatch them, feed them, breed them, among other things. I have no intention of actually doing that, purchasing some exotic species and raising them in a box in my room or something, but it is somewhat interesting to me. Due to the nature of my back porch, it could be said that I have kept spiders as pets unintentionally for many months now, since I leave them in their webs in the corners to feed on stray small insects (most anything else I try to take out of the porch) and check on them frequently.
In my backyard, we have a raspberry bush growing on one side which brings a plethora of fruit and arthropods every year. I like to look at it sometimes in order to find and observe insects. A little over a month ago or so, I found a particular mantis on this raspberry bush. If I am recalling correctly, I think I saw a very similar, but significantly smaller, mantis a few months earlier on the raspberry, so I wonder if they might be the same one... I decided to bring it up to my back porch and leave it there, as it could feed on the flies. It has remained there since, and I check on it regularly! I am fairly certain that she is a female Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina), and I have seen her increase in size throughout the month. This is what she looks like, standing on the screen covering the windows of the back porch:
When I first brought her to the porch, I held her on my hand for a very, very long while. ...Which is not really holding, since it just consists of the insect standing and walking around on my hands/arms, occasionally flying away so I had to catch her again. Whenever I tried to pick her up, including when originally taking her from the raspberries, I would surround her with my hands to encourage her to climb on them, and she would try to get away from them. This is most interesting: she would seem to ram head-first into my hands with her forelegs tucked in, as if to feel around for a possible opening somewhere. I have never seen or heard anything about that peculiar behavior before. At first, it was quite a while until she actually allowed herself to crawl on the hands. I get the feeling that she actually became accustomed to being held by me; she typically does not try to fly away any more, or run off, although she still does the ramming thing when I pick her up, but not as much.
When I first brought her to the porch, after I had put her down on the wall, I also tried hand-feeding flies to her, just to see if it would work. This is rather difficult and probably amusing to watch, since it is not easy to get a live fly to stay on the tip of your finger for very long (she would probably not be able or willing to catch it if it were held unmoving between my fingertips). After a couple tries it worked, and she caught a fly that was on the tip of my fingernail!
A couple weeks ago, I saw her standing on a chain that was holding up a flower pot... right above an ootheca that I had not seen before. It seems that she had mated before I found her! That, or I just had not noticed that particular ootheca before. There is another ootheca near the door inside the back porch that has been there for a few months now, though I do not know where its parents have been. Maybe next spring I will see some baby mantids crawling all over the place and eating everything!
So, yes. This mantis still lives with me. Sometimes she goes missing and I almost worry that she might have found the door or something, but she always shows up again with a day or two or three. She probably just happens to be in the places I do not bother to look in.