Enter the Mantis

Three weeks ago, we got a praying mantis.

I’ve been seeing mantiiiii everywhere this summer; on trees, steps, stoops, and stumps.  “What an awesome bug,”  I’d think every time I saw one.  “Thanks,” it would think back, tilting its tiny head.  How to take my enthusiasm for the critter to the next level?

It turns out Megan had considered getting a mantis as a pet back in the dorms, and had done some research.  You can get a real fancy mantis online for about $30, and it’ll look like an orchid or a violin or something.  Pretty cool– but how far out of my way did I want to go to get one of these creatures.

It turns out I only had to open the front door.  I went out to do some errands a few weekends ago and a sweet kelly-green mantis with a copper belly was hanging out on the wall next to our door, poaching flies out of a spider’s web.  I went back in to check with the missus; and we got a spare glass aquarium ready to go.  I scooted the little mantis inside; she fluttered around in short hops before I eventually pinched her gently around the middle and was able to put her in the tank.  Later that day, we got her some dirt, twigs, and a water dish,  and her mantis pad was complete.

We tossed a number of names back and forth, but Barbacoa* was the one that finally stuck, for reasons I can’t explain.

So now we have a mantis!  We fed her mealworms for the first few days, and while we never saw her eat them, they would disappear.  But then the refrigerated mealworms started looking less and less appetizing, as the weeks went on.  Luckily, mantises have another favorite natural prey: cat food.

We put a little bit of cat food on the end of a toothpick.  Once it gets close to her face, she snatches the toothpick (she’s strong enough to almost yank it out of your fingers) and scours it clean with her awesome four-parted mouth.  The jury’s still out on whether she prefers  Chicken & Herring or Turkey & Salmon.

She’s a beast, and she’s a delight to have around.  More pictures, updates, and delightful tales to follow!

*The exotically named spicy beef at Chipotle.

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Posted on September 29, 2010, in Animals and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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