Fri Mar 2023

Praying Mantis*

It was with a frisson of excitement that I spotted this praying mantis on the screen of the back door, a rare visitor here. Direct from an “alien invasion” horror movie, I thought. Making an excuse to my house guests, I grabbed the camera, and began clicking away.

After several minutes, they interrupted to suggest that I also shoot the bug from the outside. “But it will fly away if I open the door,” I protested. Why not go out the front door and tip-toe around the corner of the house, they replied, with the exaggerated patience of an adult talking to a child. Why not, indeed? It was an inspired suggestion.

This remarkable insect spent some time exploring the screen door before it finally flew off. Although anxious to return to my guests, I kept shooting, knowing I had but this one, rare opportunity.

In the last frame, the mantis demonstrated its segmented body, reminding me of the segmented buses and trolleys we see on city streets. In the next-to-last frame, it had swiveled its head and was looking directly at me, a motion it repeated several times, exhibiting I thought a native curiosity. (Such curiosity, I believe, resides in most living creatures, perhaps as a survival trait.)

I urge readers to view this photo sequence full-frame, in order fully to appreciate the delicate detail, especially in the wings. See below.