Tuesday, 9 August 2011

What the Mantis Did...

DISCLAIMER:  The following blurb may have been exaggerated slightly for dramatic effect.

 Last week I was busy at work, preparing a group of children to take on a major Toronto landmark: The Outward Bound Challenge Tower.  It measures in at an impressive 65 feet, which does little to challenge the lofty Toronto skyline or CN tower, but is nonetheless just as impressive for it’s various ropes, ladders, and beams hanging from the side (none of which can be found hanging from a downtown Toronto high-rise).
While demonstrating proper belay technique, my eyes strayed to a twig stuck in the rope web at the start of the aptly named “Rope-Thingy” route.  Upon closer inspection I noticed it was in fact a praying mantis.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, I had never had the fortune to meet this insect in person before.  Its many eyes glared at me through emerald orbs as its head swiveled around robotically to meet my stare.  Face to face with this buggy monster I did that only thing any closet biology nerd would do.  I picked it up.
Not with my hands of course (though they were involved).  I found a nearby twig and proceeded to prod the mantis gently, encouraging the twig as a perch so that I could show the kids this surprising find.  The mantis obliged, then as they say in the sewage bizz; the shit hit the fan.
The mantis began flailing its arms wildly, doggy paddling the thin air in front of its face with its long talons.  It started walking forward on the twig towards my fingers, the kids lunged back in surprise, and a few shrieks were loosed.  The mantis was in attack mode, it wanted blood.  I could see its large pincers opening and closing and thought that if I had a magnifying glass, I could probably see the thing foaming voraciously at the mouth like a rabid animal.  Maybe it had rabies?  Maybe its bite had venom, or was at least mildly irritating.  My mind flashed to an old grade school nature film of a female praying mantis mating with a male mantis then devouring its mate.  I didn’t want that to happen to my index finger, and I definitely didn’t want it to be chewed on either.
I knew I wasn’t properly equipped to be handling this unknown bug.  So I let it down in a nearby patch of tall grass.  Just as my hand was nearing the ground, the bug turned and a small green, torpedo shaped projectile came flying out at me from its rear end.  Naturally, I was startled, but my agile reflexes kicked in just in the knick of time for the shot to go whizzing past me.
With the mantis safe in the grass, I returned to the belay lesson.  It was difficult to focus immediately after the mantis assault.  I just kept wondering: what flew out of it’s butt?  Still to this day, no amount of google searching can answer my question.  Can you?

1 comment:

  1. My mother had a praying mantis as a child, the whole neighbourhood got into the habit of bringing her crickets to feed it, which the mantis ate much like a cob of corn. She is currently out of contact, but I will ask when I talk to her if she knows what came out of its rear.