Before I get into the garden horrors of this afternoon, let’s recap. Last week you may remember I put a few photos on Twitter about the praying mantid (Mantis spp.) I discovered in my Garden of Goods and Evils. I was working on one of my patios, watering some plants in a raised bed. It was hot. Very hot. And humid, although we were in need of rain. That’s why I was was watering with the hose. It was late evening and the mosquitoes were bugging me (yeah, that’s good) to the point where I just wanted to get back in the house. It was at this moment that something caught my eye. A flittering. A fluttering. A rapid movement under the topside one of my arbors covered in vines.
“What in the world is that?” I said to myself out loud. (I do enjoy a good conversation with myself). It looked like a moth that was really enjoying something on my Aristolochia vine. But there were no open flowers. I finished watering, put the hose down on the ground, and walked over the arbor. I stared up in amazement, nay, shock and awe. The moth was not enjoying itself. A praying mantid was enjoying the moth. The taste of the moth. The head to be exact.
I exclaimed for my husband to get back outside. “You won’t believe what I am seeing!” I yelled toward the house. I ran inside, grabbed my old cell phone and my Canon 60D (only cell phone shots on this blog post). I should have grabbed my tripod too, but I was in a rush.
Back through the sunroom and out into the yard, I slowly crept up to the arbor. She was still there, feasting. The first images were blurred by the wings of the moth flapping as he tried to escape. Or perhaps it was just nerves twitching as the brain was being quickly eaten by the praying mantid.
Even after the moth ceased to move, the praying mantid would dip her head into the neck cavity of the moth, grab a juicy bite, raise her head, and turn to look at me. I was interrupting. Nonetheless, it made it tricky to get a clear photo in the fading light, under the arbor. It was difficult to look away, though it should have been easy.
I continued to take photos with both cameras until I could no longer stand to be eaten myself, by mosquitoes of course.
A few days later passing back through the patio, my husband said to me, “Whoa, check this out, a good photo opportunity.”
Indeed, another (or the same?) praying mantid was hanging out on the flowering stems of my potted chives. Back into the house I ran for my camera and phone. I was really wishing I had grabbed my extension tubes for my 50mm so that I could practice some macro photography with the little dude. But alas, my time was once again shortened by the constant slapping of mosquitoes on my arms and legs.
Today I was walking across the patio to dump my compost bucket out back when I saw a beautiful monarch butterfly gently nestled in the stems of my chives. OH, wow, I thought. It is just sitting there in the light rain, perhaps taking a break from flying. I went ahead and made a deposit into the compost pile and returned to the patio garden area.
I again looked in on the butterfly. But the more I stared, the more I really began to look, I realized it wasn’t moving at all. And there was something odd about the wings. The wings were all backwards or upside down. Pointed in the wrong direction. No! No! No! Could it be? I slowly peered down into the chives into the wings of the monarch. I shook my head (which was more than the butterfly would ever do again for its head was missing) and stepped back. Did I see that correctly? I stepped back up to the pot of chives and looked down again among the stems. Indeed, the butterfly’s head was gone. I quickly looked up and down the chive stems for the praying mantid. Who else is currently in my garden eating heads? I don’t want to draw from stereotypes, but lets face it. Who was recently eating the head of a moth and was recently seen on the chives? A praying mantid. I once again ran back into the house (hey, with all this running why am I so behind on losing weight?), grabbed my phone and returned to the scene of the crime.
I took a few photos in the rain.
Then I began to look again for the culprit. Any culprit.
There she/he was…hanging out calmly on a sage plant about 18″ away from the chives.
I would say she looked guilty, but considering how extremely creepy they look anyway, who knows? Is this enough to convict the praying mantid? Perhaps not.
Well, you just never know what lurks ahead or above in my Garden of Goods and Evils. Perhaps there is something lurking in your garden as well. Take time to observe and you never know what you will find.
Good links with information about the Praying Mantid (Mantis spp.) from Iowa State University Extension and the University of Kentucky College of Ag
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Yours In Garden Horror,
The Garden Maiden
All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden