Friday, September 2, 2016

Mantis Munchies

Here’s a post for the kids.
Or the kids at heart.

September is a great month for insects! 
Just listen when you go outside and hear all the chirping and buzzing.
 It’s like the creatures are making life count before it gets cold
and the frost puts an end to the summer fun. 

If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot
one of the coolest insects around  -- the Praying Mantis!

This Mantis is cleaning her foot.

It’s famous for being the only known insect that can turn its head and look over its back.
  That might be what makes it look just a little spooky!  
Their eyes are very sharp (this makes them great at catching prey),
 and they watch you as if they are extra smart.
 And maybe they are!

Here is a Praying Mantis on our front porch.

If you do get to spot a Praying Mantis, you may want to give it a little snack.
 It’s very easy, actually.
 (Watching insects eat is a fascinating thing!  Last year I wrote about feeding Ant Lions. 

We caught some crickets in this jar.

 First, you’ve got to do some hunting! 
Your prey is whatever a Mantis likes to eat – pick something that looks really tasty!
  Maybe not a stinkbug?!!  
We’ve found that they really like crickets and small grasshoppers.
 And those insects are usually fairly easy to find,
 just crawling or hopping around in the yard.  

Once you’ve captured a cricket (or something else) pop its head off to kill it.
  Then choose a skinny stick or extra-long stem of grass or weed
and poke the dead insect onto the end like this.

 Slowly crawl the dead insect toward the Praying Mantis, making it look as though it’s alive.
 I bet it will only take an instant before she will turn her quick eyes to watch the new insect. 
She’s hoping this might be supper!!! 
Creep the Mantis dinner very close, and she should pounce on it and start gnawing. 

Now just sit back and watch!!!  

Munch, Munch!

A cricket drumstick.

Cassia is making the cricket "crawl" along the arm of the bench.

 Mantises love to eat insects and are very helpful in the garden for eating pest insects.

Now there’s one thing about the Praying Mantis.
 Please, please, please, be careful with them.
 If you want to hold one, don’t scoop it up.
 Don’t grab it up. 
They can be damaged easily!  
Especially if they have large swollen abdomens.
 These big fat ones are females who are getting ready to lay their eggs
 in a special foam sack that’s like a tiny brown insulated cooler.
 This sack will protect her eggs all through the winter until next spring,
when the little green baby Mantises hatch out. 
So… if you do want to hold a Mantis, carefully put your hand in front of it,
 and gently nudge it forward so that it crawls onto you by itself. 
This way you won’t accidentally bend its legs or squish its soft belly.

If you’d like to see some more cool insects,

 Happy hunting!!!

 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.”
Job 12:7-10

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