The Monarch and the Mantis: A Poem for Halloween

Thursday, October 31, 2019,

Orange and black are the colors of Halloween, right? Well, one of the protagonists in this post wears those very colors. I warn you, these are less than pleasant photographs. But isn’t Halloween all about being scared? And to make it scarier still, I’ve added a poem that’s sure to bring a groan.

The Monarch and the Mantis

The Monarch, she’s a beauty
An altogether cutie
Happy is the hour
When she lights upon a flower

The Mantis is a mean one
A nasty long and lean one
He’s gruesome and he’s toothsome
He’s altogether Ooh!-some

They both live in the fields
Where both come in for meals
Everyone needs to eat
And we all enjoy a treat

The Monarch she seeks nectar
The Mantis is like Lecter
That Hannibal was a cannibal
And the Mantis is no better

One day the Mantis sees the Lady
But she’s not enough afraidy
The Mantis makes a meal
Of a beauty oh so real

What good was it to be here?
I was all too late to free her
At least I got the pics
As the Mantis got his kicks

If there’s a lesson to be learned
It’s that this poet should be spurned
This poem is just awful
And that should be unlawful



November Mantis

Friday, November 17, 2017,

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This was the first, and very likely the last, Praying Mantis I saw all year. I had pretty much given up the hope of photographing one this season when I found this lady beside the handle of our screen door. I didn’t take her picture because I like my shots to look like they were taken “in nature”. She camped out there for four days, long enough for us to expect her to greet us when we came home. Then, one afternoon when I arrived home she wasn’t there. I searched and I searched, and there she was, in the leaf litter to the side of the doorway. And then I was able to get my “in nature” shot. Thank you Ms. Mantis. JK

A Bad Day For Mr. Mantis

Sunday, October 9, 2016,


This is not why I’m single but it certainly is food for thought. And for female Praying Mantises. I got these shots during yesterday’s Four Harbors Audubon Society birding walk at Avalon Preserve. Please take note of Mr. Mantis’s missing head and of the severed leg that Mrs. Mantis is grasping in her right front leg. Is that a forelimb or foreplay? Mr. Mantis was enjoying a terrific morning and then the check came. Next time bring cash. By the way, the participants are still conjoined. He may have lost his head but Mr. Mantis remembered why he came to the party.





Mantis Laying Eggs

Monday, October 31, 2011,

Here are a couple of shots of a female, (obviously), Praying Mantis laying eggs on a Goldenrod stem. This was not an obvious fact when I first came across this scene. I was walking through the farm fields at Avalon – has anyone noticed how many of my recent posts come from Avalon? – when something, maybe it was movement, I really don’t know, caught my eye. When I first saw it, I knew I was seeing something cool. (Yes, I am a product of my generation.) Some sort of large segmented worm that was seated in a leaf bud was making a cocoon for itself.

At this point I should maybe explain that Joe Kayaker is in need of bifocals that he does not yet wear. There could be some vanity at work here but let’s get back to the story at hand. Anyways, I took off my glasses and leaned in close for a better look. So cool, really. I really love nature at work. But at this point, I’m still seeing what I think is some weird caterpillar or segmented worm, although I don’t know of any worms that make cocoons. So I re-goggle myself (I can see, I can see!) and switch cameras for a wider angle (less close-up) and there is a mantis laying eggs. What I thought was a weird sort of worm was, instead, a pregnant abdomen and the leaf bud turned out to be the wings of an upside down Praying Mantis. I laughed right out loud. A real “duh!” moment for me but, hey, still very cool nonetheless.

What these pics don’t show is how ALIVE the abdomen was. It was moving this way and that while it was  creating the Ootheca, or egg case. The back end of this critter seemed to have a mind of its own. Eyes, too, for that matter. It really seemed to be independent of the mantis. In fact, the rest of the Mantis’ body never moved during the twenty minutes I spent documenting this experience. Meanwhile, that back end was bending in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible. I usually think of insect bodies being stiff and tough. Exoskeletons, right? Not in this case. The abdomen was downright supple. It even looked soft and puffy in places. Ah well, Mother Nature never ceases to educate and entertain me. JK