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Special Delivery!

Off The Beaten Path

With Jack Armistead


I call it “special delivery.”

I was pleasantly surprised recently when a 5- inch Praying Mantis appeared perched on my mailbox. Some say that spotting a praying mantis will bring you good luck. I certainly hope so.

I looked at the mantis for a few minutes and took several photos with my phone. As I got close to the huge insect I noticed that he was watching my every move. I took a step to the right and the mantis turned his head to watch my changing positions. Wow! He acts like a little human, I thought. I began talking to him as neighbors passing by probably thought I was nuts. But it seemed like he or she was listening while returning my glances.

Naturally my fascination of the unusual insect took me to the internet for research. I found a fact-filled story by writer Debbie Hadley.

“Try to sneak up on a praying mantis and you may be startled when it looks over its shoulder at you,” Hadley wrote.

That's because a mantis has the ability to turn their heads a full 180 degrees.

“No other insect can do so. Praying mantids have a flexible joint between the head and prothorax that enables them to swivel their heads. This ability, along with their rather humanoid faces and long, grasping forelegs, endears them to even the most entomophobic people among us,” Hadley wrote. That sure was true about my new friend on my mailbox.

Other interesting factoids contained in the article:

If a female mantis is hungry it is not unusual for her to eat her mate.

Watch out, guys!

Some people keep these creatures as pets because their faces look like monsters from out of space. If you want to keep one a 1-square foot tank is a good size for most praying mantises. The 12-inch height is important to provide space for molting. A mesh top is preferred and mesh openings on the side are helpful, if possible.

If you take good care of a mantis you will have a friend for at least a year.

Check out the photo above. He’s looking at you. Say hello.

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November 2017
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