You walk through the savanna looking for the trumpets of pitcherplants that are poking through the grasses. You peer into each pitcher’s trumpet with the expectation of finding a pitcher plant moth or caterpillar (Exyra sp.) that lives in the trumpet of the pitcher plant.
More often, you only see carcasses of other insects that have fallen to the base of the trumpet. During lovebug season, the trumpets can be filled to the brim! After a doomed insect slides down the slippery side of the trumpet, it cannot escape and dies. Its carcass is “digested” by the carnivorous plant.
The praying mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) is quite common from Virginia to Florida in the autumn. Look for this insect in the upper clusters of flowers, especially those in the aster family. The flowers attract butterflies and other insects that feed on the flowers’ nectar.