Sheila has a flower garden in the front of our house. It is filled with roses, iris’, and everything in between. Last fall, I noticed two large, brown, foam looking sacs attached to the stems on two of the rose bushes. Upon closer inspection, I soon realized that they were the egg sacs for the Praying Mantis. I know this because years ago when we went to cut our own christmas tree, there was one on it and the owner of the farm told me that if we kept it there, it could last until spring when the newborns would hatch and they could go about their merry way eating the harmful bugs like flies, aphids, and mosquitoes. In fact, they are so beneficial that here in Maryland it is illegal to kill them. After surviving being adorned with christmas ornaments and bright lights, the branch with the sac was put outside after the holidays and quickly forgotten. Months later I went to check on the sac only to find it shriveled up and the Mantis gone. Oh well.
This time I would not let the hatching event get by me. As the weather got warmer, I started to keep an eye on the sacs as it was fairly easy. They were after all right outside my front door. Everyday I would get close to look for any sense of movement. Nothing. Weeks go by. Nothing. All of Sheila’s flowers bloom and still nothing. I was starting to get a little disappointed because, to be honest, I had plans for them. That’s right. I wanted my own Mantis army. Think of it: I could train them to kill all of the nasty bugs that destroy Sheila’s garden every summer. If they ever tire and lose their moral for fighting, I would run around the garden with my rake held high giving them a speech similar to the one Mel Gibson gave the Scottish soldiers in Braveheart:”They may take your lives, but they’ll never take our roses!”
My daily search for the hatchlings and the idea of a Mantis army started to wain when one day as I was leaving the house, I spotted this little guy in the photo above sitting on a petal of an Iris. I still can’t believe I saw him: he was less than a quarter of an inch long and only two days old at best. At first I thought,”is this it?” “Just one?” That’s when I realized as my eyes panned across the garden that he wasn’t the only one. Five here. Ten over there. Some on roses. Some on the Iris. They were everywhere. I have never seen such a sight like this before. I really thought that they would live in garden because for about two weeks, they never left. I would come out my front door and stare at them. Up close even, and they would just stare back at me. “These guys are fearless!” I thought. “Wait until the summer when the Japanese Beetles arrive and my minions pummel them!”
Just when I got used to the idea that this might actually work, they were gone. Not in a one by one sort of way, but an overnight kind of way. I just woke up one morning to find that they had completely vanished. I should have known this would happen. It is probably best anyway. It would take way too long to explain to them the finer points of battle like Mel did in Braveheart. Besides, Praying Mantis wearing kilts is just plain silly.
Canon 5D mark II, EF 85 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/320 @ f/5.6