Monday, August 23, 2021

Red in Tooth and Claw

Our dog came upon this large Chinese praying mantis in our yard this morning in incriminating circumstances. The mantis was on the ground directly beneath our hummingbird feeder, and I found the insect surrounded by small feathers, with some of which it appears to have bedecked itself according to the custom of hunters from time immemorial. It reared up in an intimidating manner and the dog, who is no fool, backed off and quickly lost interest.

Until I can decide its fate I have brought it inside and put it in a transparent plastic container where I can keep an eye on it, and vice versa. I can't simply release it; it's an invasive species and they do eat hummingbirds, as improbable as that seems. On the other hand I can't quite bring myself to kill it.

For the last few hours it has been hanging on upside down to the lid of the container, which permits the passage of air. I gave it three Mexican bean beetles in case it got hungry, but they appear to have died of fright. Now it's staring in my direction, awaiting my next move. If I am murdered in my sleep tonight you will know who to blame.


Michael Leddy said...

Having heard many times that killing a mantis (any variety?) is illegal, I just checked, and Snopes says no.

Do you know Louis Zukofsky’s poem “Mantis”? It’s on two pages here: Quite a different picture from the killer with feathers.

Chris said...

I didn't know the Zukofsky, thanks for it. Quite a piece of work!