Thursday, January 16, 2014

More from our Mantis

Our praying mantis is still alive, much to my surprise. A couple of weeks ago she laid a second egg case, and it looked to me as though she were dead at that time. The next morning, though, the kids saw her move a leg, so they took her out of her cage and she was still with us. We misted her with water and got to watch her drink, and then fed her a cricket, which she consumed with gusto. She's still hanging in there! She's lost a couple of her feet, so she has a harder time holding on to things, but she still climbs to the top of the cage and seems to enjoy coming out to be with us. As I type, she's sitting on my shoulder, watching the kids lower stuffed animals on a rope over our bannister. She thinks they're quite silly, I can tell.

She had an experience this week I thought I'd share. Because she's elderly, she doesn't try to escape anymore, so we can set her someplace and find her there later. We like her to have a bit of freedom, you see. We had just come home with a fresh box of crickets, so we put her on the lid of her cage and fed her one, and let her stay there to eat it. We went about our business, putting things away, and honestly, I forgot she was out.

All of a sudden, I heard Abbie hollering at one of the kittens. This kitten, to be exact:

The kittens are fascinated with Scipio. They are all excellent bug hunters, and Scipio is easily the largest insect they've ever seen. They spend a lot of time on top of her cage, gazing at her, wishing she would come out to "play."

Percy discovered the mantis on top of her cage and decided to hop up and investigate. I am not quite sure what he did to her, but she was not impressed and went into her fiercest stance. Check her out!

Aren't her wings magnificent? I'll tell you what: I have been stabbed with one of the hooks on her front legs, and it HURTS. I found this picture on Wikipedia of a mantis' front leg:

See that spike on the tibia? She uses those to hold on to her prey, and also to defend herself. They provide an effective defense, that's for sure! 

We managed to get Percy away and rescue Scipio, who did not, in spite of her advanced age, have a heart attack. It was fascinating to see her defensive display. It took her several minutes to calm down afterwards, too. She would turn her head at any motion (mostly Isaac), ready to strike if necessary. This was the first time we'd seen her wings all the way out. Praying mantises can fly, but they usually don't, and she has never tried in the house. 

In the kerfluffle, the kittens knocked her first egg case off the lid of the cage where she'd laid it. We have it in a mason jar with a lid made of an old nylon stocking. This will hopefully allow air into the jar and keep the babies from escaping if and when they hatch. We will have to get her second egg case out and put it into another jar, but it's attached to her favorite stick and we haven't found a replacement yet. We need to get on that - I do not relish the thought of hundreds of the little beasties running amok in the house. The kittens would probably have a field day, though.

I never knew having a bug for a pet could be so much fun! If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to try keeping one for a while and observing the behavior.

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