14 August 2012

Praying Mantises: The Honey Badgers of the Insect World

Practically every day I catch myself thinking, "Hey, dummy, you should write about that," about a strange assortment of stuff.  Then my feeble, sieve-ish, middle-aged brain takes over and wipes away all memory of what was supposedly a great idea.  Lots of times those ideas are gone forever.  Sometimes little things can give the old brain a kick in the pants, though, and I remember some odd bit.  This happened yesterday.

My dear college friend and sorority sister, Christine, posted this terrific photo of a praying mantis on Facebook:
How cool is this guy?!

I can't help but be mesmerized whenever I see them.  I should know better.  It got me to thinking about a photo I took a couple of weeks ago while out doing the continuous grocery run that will never end until my kids move away from home:

Unassuming, pretty trees that house demon spawn.

What does one have to do with the other?  Oh, so very much in a convoluted sort of way.  The picture of the tree was taken while thinking about stupid things I have done in the past.  Things I should share to let folks know what an idiot I can be.  This is one of those stupid things:

The above pictured tree, and others like it in the grocery store parking lot near where I live are a favorite home for praying mantises.   Last year I was walking past this tree to my car, which happened to be parked alongside.  There was a heavyweight-category mantis sitting on one of the outer branches, surely just knowing what a prize it was.  I could not resist.  I knew that praying mantises eat other bugs.  What better way to have pest control in my herb garden than to have one of these puppies in there, no?  I needed something to pick it up with.  Being the wuss I am not very proud to admit to, I refused to use my bare hands.  God knows what kind of sharp, pointy things were lurking on that monster.  I found an old ski hat and, with people rubber-necking at me as they walked to and from the store (Why couldn't they mind their own business?  Can't a person publicly act like a fool in peace?), I gingerly wrapped the hat around the bug, thinking we would just hang out in the car together for the short drive home.  WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?   As soon as I shut the car door, the devil-mantis went nutters on me.  When it wasn't dive-bombing my head, it was smacking against the windows with alarmingly loud cracks.  And if you think they look big on a branch, they're downright huge when locked in a car with you.  Anyone walking by my car (which most definitely was displaying a lot of animation for not even having the key in the ignition), saw me flailing about the front seat,  swatting at my head in spasmodic fits,  and heard from within, my muffled screams. Interesting.  I finally gave up on my spur-of-the-moment nature project, opened all the car doors and shooed the damned thing from my car, uninjured (the mantis, that is).  I knew that praying mantises were ruthless predators in the bug-world, but had no idea  how bad-ass they could be with something 1,000 times their size.  You live and learn, as the cliche says.  And now I know to leave nature alone and that Praying Mantis Transport by Automobile is not a good idea.  Stupid, in fact.   


  1. I will never look at them the same way again!

  2. Praying Mantis don't care.....

    1. I watched that again because of this post. Still love it!