I almost forgot to tell you that our entire family dynamic has changed!
July 22, 2011

As a heads-up, this illustration by Alicia Stucky is one of my favorite works of art ever.  It is exactly 500% awesome.  Please, everyone, give her some love.

On our afternoon walk a few days ago, Donald stopped suddenly in the middle of the road.  “CHARLOTTE!” he whispered urgently.  “Charlotte, come here, look!  Do you see the praying mantis?”

She did, in fact, see the praying mantis.  He is still so young that he has not yet developed wings and he is hardly half the length of my thumb.  But we coaxed him onto a leaf, placed him in a jar, and brought him home with us.

We caught a small spider and a few flies, placed them in the jar and watched the mantis go to work.  Charlotte is especially interested in watching him eat.

Then we named him Melvin.  The end.


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  1. By Carolee on July 22, 2011

    Donald’s mother here.  Donnie has loved this particular insect since he was a child.  And, I’ve had a severe grasshopper and mantis phobia since my mother shook a sheet out and a huge green grasshopper landed on me.  It was just my luck that we bought a house that was previously owned by a man who used praying mantises in his garden, for insect control. 

    One morning, very early, Donnie yells to me, “Mommy I found a bug that looks like a stick!“ Okay, I’m thinking that he just found a walking stick.  So, I go out to see what he is talking about when I stop dead in my tracks, feeling goose bumps from my back to the top of my head, and tell him, “No, that’s a praying mantis.“  I ushered him inside and dug through a pile of National Geographics until I found the one that had a pink manitis on the cover.  He was meserized, by all the pictures, while I was struggling just to stay conscious.  I can barely stand looking at pictures of bugs.  Especially, if they are magnified.

    Donnie captured it, but awhile later, I heard a blood curdling scream and the crash of shattering glass.  Apparently, you can’t just take them out and play with them as if they were a hamster.  They bite!  And, they bite hard enough to leave a dark red circular mark.  He recaptured it and the next thing I know I’m going to the pet store to get a carton of meal worms.  Every year, after that, Donnie found a new one to keep.  Irony comes to mind when I think about how a ‘girlie girl’, like me, ended up with three sons. 

    I’m not surprised that he can still zero in on a sneaky mantis. 

    Thank you, Sarah, for this post.  It’s fun to see Donnie teaching your child the way I did, years ago. 
    Love you, Carolee

  2. By Donna on July 22, 2011

    that is so cute! The picture with her watching is to die for! I’m so glad we don’t have those up here because I don’t want my boys bringing me bugs!

  3. By Alicia S. on July 22, 2011

    Even to me mantises are fascinating.. and I’m petrified - like seriously petrified - of even crickets.

    lol, Carolee, I think about that too… Since becoming a mom I’ve had so many bugs land on me it’s ridiculous—just because I have a son and self-proclaimed-tomboy stepdaughter who are always dragging them into our house. Last week my husband found a Hercules Beatle (you’ve gotta look this thing up if you’ve never seen one) and brought it home from work for our son to keep. Must have been an inch and a half long… but by the end of the week, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it either. The things we do for our kids… :-P

  4. By Sarah Christensen on July 22, 2011

    Carolee - Because of those mantises he had growing up, Donald can still snatch just about any fly out of the air without killing it.  On the other hand, when he was on his business trip, I had to feed the mantis myself for a week.  After two days, I gave up and bought some feeder crickets and fruit flies at the pet shop.  When he saw me trying to catch flies in the backyard the other day, Donald started laughing so hard I thought he’d bust open right there.  Between guffaws, he managed to squeeze out that I looked so ridiculous in my fruitless efforts that he would pay money to see me do it again!

    Crickets are clearly the way to go.

    OH ALSO, he didn’t tell me that they shed their skin.  So last night I peeked in and saw this ghost-like thing hanging upside down on a leaf and it scared the crap out of me.  Then I realized what was going on, since the mantis is now like twice the size of its old skin lol.

  5. By Carolee on July 22, 2011

    Oh, Alicia, just saw that Hercules beetle.  That would be a shocking discovery, for sure.  It’s pretty ugly. 

    As disgusting and creepy as I find insects, I have to admit that I have eaten snails, without gagging, and could do it again, and have no problem handling any type of reptile.  I just know that this mantis I came face to face with, in Virginia, was thinking, “Lady, if I were bigger or you were smaller, you would be my poop tomorrow.“  He was almost 5 inches long and he moved his head to watch me. 

    Sarah, I never knew that they shed their skin.  Probably because I just couldn’t bring myself to watch them.  And, I have to say that you are a good wife.  If my Tom asked me to feed his pet mantis, for him, that bug would be S O L.  I couldn’t bring myself to handle one bug to feed another.  Kill me now!!

    It is funny the things we mothers do for our kids.  Some people might think that it’s a pain but I think it was fun and educational.

  6. By on July 22, 2011

    One of my cherished photos is of my then five yr old daughter trying to pass me a baby alligator and saying, “Don’t you want to hold it, mommy? It’s so cute !~!”  Eh, mommy will hold the camera honey, thanks, yikes.

    Her biological father is a bug nut too. Me, not so much…

  7. By Sarah Christensen on July 22, 2011

    Lynda - I’m a bug nut…to a point.  I like watching them, just, you know, no interest in touching them.  Charlotte’s obsessed with them.  She saw a line of ants today, so she stuck her finger in the middle and let them crawl all up her arm and across her belly and she thought it was the coolest thing ever.  I thought it was gross.  Then one bit her and she wanted them all off, but fifteen minutes later, there she was, sticking her finger in their line.  And she’s constantly looking under rocks for pillbugs, digging holes to find worms, asking me to lift her up to find spiderwebs (or her favorite: to watch the spiders wrapping up their prey), etc.  We get these ground spiders that dig tunnels in the dirt and spin their web over the openings.  Those are her favorites.  She puts little beetles in their web and watches them ‘harvest’ the beetle.  Ugh.

    Clearly, this is something she inherited from the X her father gave her because I feel pretty safe saying that I never fed spiders.  Or collected junebug larva.  Or any of that stuff my daughter does.  I tell her there’s a career in entymology just waiting for her.

  8. By kbreints on July 23, 2011

    Awesome. What a cool pet!

  9. By Tabitha (From Single to Married) on July 25, 2011

    We tried that experiment with fish.  Difference is we bought them from the store, a couple of Beta fish.  They did pretty well for the first few weeks until they died.  Unfortunately, Henry only seemed interested in them for the first day or so.  Maybe when he’s a bit older… :)


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