Not a Prayer…Posted: January 5, 2014
Ten things you need to know about our new pets:
1) They were praying mantises, not grasshoppers.
2) They are all dead.
3) I am a bonehead, because I’m pretty sure identifying bugs in your home is one of the reasons the gods invented the Internet. But you, dear readers, are either not entomologists or are very polite or are lazy blog commenters. Or maybe my photos were blurry.
4) Praying mantises do not eat lettuce.
5) Praying mantises eat other bugs. The nymphs love fruit flies. In summer, our house is a fruit fly aviary. But this time of year, nary a drosophilid can be found.
6) Praying mantises will cannibalize their siblings, which means putting them in a box together was a mistake. I did think they seemed young to be humping each other… But eating their siblings is even worse. This is not a moral statement on incest vs. cannibalism in humans. Only in bugs. Also, apparently ours were squeamish about the whole cannibalism thing, too, because it didn’t seem to work (see item 2).
7) When Das Big Boy was shaking the box, which we had labeled grasshoppers at his we request, we told him to be kind to the praying mantises. “Don’t punch them,” he nodded. Glad our lessons on kindness are getting through. So instead we starved them. Pretty sure we went off message.
8. When they started dying off, I thought the cardboard box in which they’d initially been housed was desiccating their fragile forms. It seemed logical because the boxed insects were dying while the free range ones we found around the house were still alive. Let this be a lesson to you on the values of free range livestock. Herr Husband and Ms. Inkling thought I was wrong (and nuts). They were right. But anyway, I tried a Glasslock because it seems logical that the pinnacle of food storage safety would also make for a good insect habitat. (Das Big Boy knows the word habitat from this Sesame Street segment. Worth watching, I swear…)
9. Herr Husband conducted some basic research and discovered that they were praying mantises. We thought for a while about how we could save the survivors. We planned to go to Petco to see about getting fruit flies (sold there as lizard food, apparently; also, this is a sign of how invested we were in these bugs). It was too late. All of the mantises were dead. Long live the mantises. Except there are no mantises.
10. I’m bummed. Had they lived, we could have released them into the yard where they would have demonstrated their loyalty to us by eating all of the mosquitoes. Now I’m going to have to continue with my organic spraying program, Simply Safer Premium Lawn Care (which is actually a good deal–$270 for the five-month season–and very effective. But still. Homegrown praying mantises would have been so much cooler).
We have apprised Das Big Boy neither of the fact that we totally biffed the insect identification or that said insects are dead. He does know that they “didn’t like the first box” and he seems to believe that “the grasshoppers are back in the grass” and “the grass is under the snow.” This seems like a lovely metaphor and like it will suffice for now.
Sidenote: we have promised Das Big Boy a fish tank for when he stops using diapers. Let’s hope Herr Husband and I up our game for that one.