Praying Mantis Named Yorick

My husband told me he found an enormous praying mantis on our driveway the other day. “It’s about to die,” he said. “It’s barely moving.” He moved it from the driveway to the shelter of the porch. It didn’t move for 24 hours, so he brought it inside to show me the beautiful but dead insect.

“Oh *&#@!,” Carlton eloquently said. The “dead” bug started moving in his hand! We realized that it was moving more due to being in the warm of indoors. But what to do? Keep it? It was surely dying due to old age and the climate combined. We put a plastic box over it and decided to decide after watching a movie.

We came upstairs to Sunny barking at something. The mantis had escaped the container and was on the carpet, flaring its wings at the little beast barking at it. We rushed to help the mantis with her forearms tangled in carpet fibers. I found a spare aquarium (no surprise there) and we protected the mantis from our many predator pets. Carlton made a dish of water for her and I googled what mantises eat. But where to find live bugs this time of year?

Amy’s house after dinner! We’d been at a fundraiser dinner and talked about the mantis on the way home. The best part was that none of the three of us questioned the silliness of caring about feeding a dying wild bug. We gathered carcasses and even a live spider or two into a bag.

We put it all in the aquarium, and while the mantis turned her head to look at us inquisitively, she displayed no interest in food. I even used a chopstick to nudge a live spider under her nose. She looked at it, but made no move at all. She was almost dead. As expected, she died within three days. She didn’t eat or drink anything. She knew it was the right time to go, and she died without being squished by a car or something.

I’ve always had a soft spot for living things, especially sentient ones. When I was a child, my parents bought me Pets in a Jar and I devoured the book. Even bugs I never collected were fascinating. I gained so much respect for caring for them and knowing what they needed (that book even made me think planaria infecting my aquaria were cool).  I still have the book.  My dad and I looked at earthworms in his garden, watching them wriggle in my hands before I set them free.

My subscription to Ranger Rick ensured a steady stream of new creatures and new knowledge.  I loved them all- even slugs, especially spiders- and I still don’t kill spiders in my home.  And not only is all of this true, it’s one of the things I really like about myself.

So alas, poor mantis, we barely knew ye, but we enjoyed meeting you and hopefully you enjoyed having food and water as you shuffled off this mortal coil.

Shakespeare + bugs.  Up next: Britney haiku.

12 thoughts on “Praying Mantis Named Yorick

  1. I LOVED Ranger Rick! I so looked forward to reading that magazine. I bought a subscription for my little cousin a few years ago too.

    We had Bug Boxes, purchased at one of the many art fairs where my mom and grandma sold their crafts. My brother and I loved to put lightning bugs in them and let them flash next to our beds at night. I was so NOT into squishing them on my finger to make glowing rings; that was mean. I suppose keeping them in a mesh-walled habitat wasn’t very nice either. I also painted some that I caught with poster paint dots and set them free so I could recognize them later if I caught them again. I watched a lot of nature shows on PBS!

    I saw this the other day and thought of you. The place where I saw it talked about setting it free outside when done watching it in the habitat, and they are native here (I guess…they’re _present_ at least?) so that seemed a little better.

    I thought about using interoffice mail to send you more bug carcasses but I couldn’t imagine explaining that if someone checked the envelope.

  2. [quote comment=””]I thought about using interoffice mail to send you more bug carcasses but I couldn’t imagine explaining that if someone checked the envelope.[/quote]

    I guess we could have said that we were working on a pest control program?

  3. [quote comment=””]Awww – how sweet and loving of you guys![/quote]
    I have a pet and her name is mrs, mantis. I found her in august but i think she is about to pass on. She is barely moving, and won’t eat. I keep hoping that maybe she is just about to molt and not about to die, but she has lived on longer than expected. In her glass house, she has layed 3 different egg cases. I am very excited to see the little ones hatch. Some people laugh when i tell them i have a mantis as a pet, but i’ve grown quite attached to this inquisitive little creature. I can pick her up without her attacking me and i’ve even trained her to eat food held on the tip of a pair of tweezers. Its neat to walk past her and see her head move around to follow me. My fiance and i walked outside one day and found her by the lamp post and she’s been my pet ever since. Who knew you could get so attached to a bug! i’m so sad she’s about to leave, but i have about 1-200 little ones to look forward to in the spring that will hopefully live long lives in my garden! If you guys ever find another one and want to keep it, you can buy crickets at any pet store for pretty cheap, and i think it’s cool you guys took care of her. Mantids are good luck!

  4. Thanks for the well-wishes for our mantis. I think it’s great that her babies will be released into your garden. It takes a special person to give so much care to a “bug!”

  5. Last summer, the family and I made a road trip across the country. In Elk City, Oklahoma, I came out to put bags in the car one morning and there was a mantis on the luggage rack. I looked at her and she looked at me. Making eye contact with an insect is a very interesting experience. I felt I was interacting with an animal that was at least as aware of my presence as a cat or dog would be.

    Went into the hotel and advised the family to approach the car quietly and we might be in for a treat. What a surprise: when my wife took out the camera, the mantis took note. It began to dance. It put on a show that in some ways, reminded me of Tai Chi. It danced down to one end of the rack, turned around, waved its forelimbs in the air, and repeated its routine.

    I say that whoever kills a mantis, it is as if they had killed the entire world, and who saves a mantis, it is as if they had saved the world. Definitely a sentient creature.

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  7. I have one that turned up on my desk one day and its been here ever since it watches me alot though. Do they by any chance bite humans. I enjoy its company but now Im wonderinf if they bite?

  8. today i found a mantis next to my brothers head he might have smashed or sumthing but from what i just read its dieing of old age now i feel so attached to the mantis even though ive only have it for a few hours its really nice that all of u guys had mantiss as pets 🙂

  9. i found a praying mantis in august and I found out that mantids die in the winter time. its very weak now, and now it only drinks so attached to it, and im very sad to see her suffering like that. her name is mindy

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