Living near woodlands, we meet lots of lil' buggers out here. My skin has definitely thickened as I've taken a more scientific approach to sharing space with larger insects and arachnids.
Every once in awhile, I'll stumble upon a praying mantis, the most captivating insect I've observed. Because they are noticeably watching ME watching them, I'm entranced. We will stare at one another intently for quite some time. I'll move from one side of her body to the other, observing her turn her head to follow my gaze. They can turn their heads up to 180 degrees! So impressive.
Here's a beauty we followed for a bit alongside our friends' pond.
|This mantis is a beautiful bright green to blend with the grass.|
So you know me, ever the nerd at heart, I did a bit of homework to learn more about these fascinating insects. Most people know that the praying mantis is named for its common front leg position, which often resembles praying hands. Because I'm always interested in the meaning in a name, I learned that "mantis" is actually from the greek word "prophet". Praying prophet? Um...cool!
|Check out the gams on this girl! Whoo whee!|
|Climbing my deck chair to get a better view of the lunch menu.|
|Legs ready to grab something yummy.|
And while you're looking at them, rest assured that they are indeed looking back at you. The praying mantis' 2 compound eyes and three simple eyes between are keen in the daylight, so they do most of their hunting when the lighting is good. In ideal conditions, they can detect movement from up to 60 feet away and they can see in color.
|Look at that FORM!|
|What are YOU lookin' at?|
|Ugh. Paparazzi! I'll have better luck catching my lunch in a more private setting.|
Despite common rumors, the praying mantis is not an endangered insect, but PLEASE do NOT harm them when you meet. I have learned that these insects have no known negative impact on the ecosystem whatsoever. In fact, many people keep these gorgeous creatures as pets! They can live up to one year and seem relatively easy to care for and observe. If you do choose to take on a praying mantis, please use common sense, do your homework and handle with care.
These exquisite creatures have certainly intrigued me this season, and my children and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about their lifestyle and behavior. I bow down to the praying prophets and have utmost respect for their patience and efficiency. And when the boys misbehave, the ladies in the mantis world send a pretty clear reminder of what a girl can do if she's irritable. Good to remember sometimes, huh? No wonder these dudes are prayin'!
P.S. Do you LOVE bugs as much as we do? One of our totally awesome friends makes totally awesome BUG TEES and counting flashcards to go with her total awesomeness. Check them out on Etsy at Creature Crawlers!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours