Whenever we stay at our little shack in the woods, we get bugs. The mosquitoes are small but vicious. There are deer flies, who have a sharp, mean bite. And there are the meat bees, who swarm around every time I feed the dogs. They swat away easily, Badges likes to snap at them, but it’s alarming when there are more than 5 or 6.
So I was glad to find this little predator under the deck one day, a big momma praying mantis. Above she has not one but two meat bees.
She lives under the water spigot, where the meat bees drink from the end of the tap. They can live off the tiny drop of water that is caught in the end of the faucet. They provide an endless source of food for Mrs. Mantis.
When I feed the dogs early in the morning, before the sun has risen above the pines, they come out of … somewhere… and begin swarming around the dogs. There were so many this morning I put the dishes and dogs in the shack and shut the door.
They go nuts for the peas I put in the dog food – green peas, soaked with chicken fat. They get so excited they try to carry them away, wrestling the peas around the edge of the patio railing, while Mrs. Mantis sways back and forth below, waiting for some chicken fat crazed bee to swing around her way.
And then SNATCH! She’s got a bee in her big pincer claw, and wastes no time in gobbling it down.
Often times the other bees come swarming mad around her, as if they know she’s made a meal of one of their sisters. I’ve read these bees usually nest together, taking turns building their paper nests, and then feeding their bird-like babies. I had a wasp nest in my window once, the baby comes out just like a little bird, and the mommie bee feeds it a little scrap of whatever it’s foraged from some bbq grill or garbage pail.
So they come at Mrs. Mantis, two or three at a time. One even seemed to give her a nip on her Kardashian size bottom. She remains so peaceful and calm, munching away – when the bee nipped her behind, she stepped forward a couple of paces, without missing a bite. I was pretty surprised when I saw her whip out the other pincer and grab a second bee right out of the air.
So vicious, she is an elegant lady, her green-purple coat ruffling at the ends. Each bite is Marie Antoinette dainty, and after every meal she cleans herself carefully, even as more bees buzz and charge around her head. She holds herself still and erect, very regal, moving only her head, watching everything with her big bulbous eyes. She seems to look right at me sometimes, and I’m very glad I’m not a bug.
There’s been a big change in the weather here – 100 degrees on Labor Day, Tuesday clouds and rain, thunder and lightening, today temperatures staying in the 90’s. Fall is moving in on Summer, like “hey, give somebody else a chance in there!”
So Mrs. Mantis will lay her eggs soon, in her big foamy egg case. My husband hopes she will attach it somewhere that we can get it and place it here in the garden. That would be swell.