The elderberry harvest was phenomenal this year; there were many more productive bushes, providing a bounty of elderflowers (from which an ethereally delightful wine was made), followed by more berries, than I’ve seen in the past. When I went out to collect a last few clusters for syrup before the berries overripened, I almost didn’t notice the mantid patrolling the bush…and you can see why.
Praying mantises are fascinating creatures, and skilled hunters. Now that I’ve seen a few close up, it’s become obvious to me that there’s intelligence and personality to each. This one, for example, wasn’t friendly (some are) and was primarily concerned about keeping away from me – and for this, I laud it, because humans are often unkind to bugs. It clearly didn’t appreciate the paparazzi trying to get a few good shots, trying to scoot away from my phone – they’re fast when they want to be – and making me wrestle the bush to get a clear photo. I’m grateful that it allowed me to share its beauty and mystery with others, especially those who may not see mantises often (or at all).
The irony in this mantis experience is that I had only recently remarked that I hadn’t seen any around the farm lately, which was unusual. I was a bit alarmed, wondering if something had negatively impacted their local population (chemicals, disease, pollution?)…perhaps saying that aloud was the cue for some to begin revealing themselves, as I’ve seen several more since that day. It’s comforting to see them and know they’re still able to survive here, even as the world’s bugs disappear.
If you like bugs, stay tuned for the next post in the Mantid series!