Six-lined racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus) is the largest lizard in Minnesota. It occurs on blufflands and river terraces in the southeastern part of the state. It is found mostly on south-facing bluffs, in river floodplains, and on sandy outwashes. Populations tend to be localized and isolated. Minnesota does not give it a protected status but lists it as a Species in Greatest Conservation Need.
Adults are most active in the morning, bask on rocks in the afternoon, and spend the night in a burrow (sound familiar?). They move with short, quick, bursts of speed. They will eat most arthropods, especially grasshoppers and crickets, but also beetle larvae, ants, spiders, and mollusks.
When attacked by a predator, the racerunner will detach its all or part of its tail. The tail will continue to wiggle and distract the predator while the racerunner seeks cover. The tail will regrow but will not be as long as the original.
Of the three lizards native to Minnesota, six-lined racerunner is the largest. There are three light yellow or yellowish-green stripes on each side. This is the feature that gives the racerunner its common name and distinguishes it from the other two lizards in Minnesota.
There are only two species of praying mantis in Minnesota, Chinese mantis and European mantis. Neither is native to North America. The most common by far is Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis sinensis). It is native to Japan, China, North and South Korea, Thailand, and Micronesia. It was accidentally introduced in Philadelphia in 1896. It is now common in the United States and southern Canada east of the Great Plains, in California west of the Rocky Mountains, and in most of Asia. It is uncommon in the southern third of Minnesota, where it is at the northwestern extent of its range, and is absent from the remainder of the state. It is found in grasslands, meadows, agricultural fields, and woodlands, and at the sides of streams and rivers.
Chinese mantis are large predaceous insects. They eat anything they can catch, including insects, small amphibians and reptiles, and hummingbirds. They remain stationary with their legs raised up as they wait for prey. Though they have wings, females do not fly. Males can fly only short distances. Adults are active in summer until fall, when they are killed by the first frost.
Chinese mantis is distinguished from European mantis by its larger size, the pattern of stripes and shape of plates on the face, a bold green stripe along the edge of the forewing, and a yellow spot between the front legs.