Today, Ashley and I had a friend coming into town to stay with us, so I used one of my personal days to stay at home to watch the kids while she drove to Birmingham to pick our friend up from the airport. Let me just say taking a day of of work in the middle of the week is AWESOME.
Anyways, before Ashley left for B-ham, I took the car to the gas station to fill the tires up with air since it had been a while since we had done that, and she was going to be driving in the interstate.
When I reached for the air hose, I saw something in my peripheral vision that made me freeze. A giant, green praying mantis was perched on the hose staring at me with his bulgy eyes. There is no way this is coincidence, I thought to myself. We have had a giant brown mantis on our front porch since Monday. It was destiny. This mantis was meant to be with our mantis. I didn’t know which mantis was male and which one was female (honestly, they both could have been one or the other) I just figured that since they were different colors, they must be different sexes. (Isn’t that how it works with a lot of animals like cardinals and peacocks?) I searched the car for something to contain him. There wasn’t anything really suitable. I found a cup that Harper had been drinking water from and had thrown into the back of the car, and a plastic baggie that he had probably been eating a snack from and done the same with. I put the giant, green mantis into the cup, and stuffed the baggie in the top to keep him contained for our short drive home.
Almost as soon as I cranked the car, I heard the baggie rustling. I looked over at the cup holder, and the mantis was staring at me again, perched on the rim of the cup. It was like he was saying “Did you really think that baggie was going to keep me in? Look at these massive pinchers!”
Well, there was nothing for it but to hurry home, and get him back into the cup when I got there. I imagined all of the baby mantes we would have, and how we would get to watch them hatch, and how awesome it was going to be.
I finally got him home, back into the cup and I released him kind of close to the brown mantis. They stared at each other for a second, but then the new green one scurried over a safe distance away from the brown one. This was when I remembered that mantes are cannibalistic maters. The females eat the males during, and after the mating. The green one must have been the male, and he wasn’t quite ready to loose his head over a girl, yet.
I got bored with watching them, and went inside. Every once in a while I came back out to check on them, and a few times they did get closer to each other, but I never saw them touch.
Finally, I came out a little later and the green mantis was gone. Maybe it was the wrong season for mantis mating, or maybe they both needed their own space for hunting. Either way, my dreams of raising mantis larvae or of seeing a giant mantis get his head eaten were crushed.
The brown mantis is still out there on the porch. She is waiting patiently very close to a cocoon that is housing a future butterfly (we’ve had three of these on our porch so far this year.) I’m nervous about what is going to happen when that butterfly emerges.
I guess I will go back to being a librarian tomorrow, since my mantis breeding plans didn’t work out.