Friday, August 26, 2011

An Alien at the Door

 I have been watching for at least a week, knowing that this is the time of year for the Praying Mantis to be most prominent. I have seen one - and one only - as I was washing a second floor window. That one delicately scooted out of my way as I worked, holding on to the rough surface of the bricks, giving himself some safe distance from my work area.
 Last evening as Mom I were beginning a game of cards, myself facing the back door, I saw a large mantid walking across the glass and so I got my camera and took pictures both through the glass and outside with the wonderful insect.

 I can't help but think of these insects as aliens: triangular green heads, something along the lines of ET, arms and legs with jagged brown hooks, cannibals all. As I took my photos, this mantid kept moving away, making it difficult to frame and focus. He swiveled his head as any good alien might do, collecting data, addressing the dangerous situation, perhaps calling out "Danger! Danger!" as any respectable alien would do when encountering a creature as large (and ugly) as myself..
 The Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) hatched from an egg within a foamy mass (flat on one side and reminding me of dried tan insulating foam) last spring, perhaps had an awakening lunch of one of his fellow nymphs as they scrambled from their birthing area and has lived a solitary life all summer.

 Prior to 1899, no one in the United States would have enjoyed this view. That's when the insects were introduced into this country on a load of nursery stock from the south of France. While they eat harmful insects and might offer some help to us in that way, they are hardly plentiful enough to do much good. And yet they apparently eat their fill. Has anyone ever seen a malnourished praying mantis? They may be thin but each looks exquisitely healthy.
 Next year's eggs will soon be laid. Another foamy mass will overwinter on some weed stem, pounded by frigid winds. But next year I'll watch another crawling across my window pane as another summer draws to a close.
 The aliens may be rare but they are here, landed among us.