Mrs. Hawkin's 1/2 grade class caught a praying mantis. Held for observation in a see-through tub, it is the duty of any good garden teacher to nurture insect observation with fresh mantis food. On Mrs. Hawkin's request, I grabbed one third grader and two first graders to help me trap food for the hungry mantis.
"Awesome!!!" said the boys as they ran off the to Blue Daze hedge - a grasshopper lair and small boy magnet. The children seem to simply know where bugs hang out. Maybe it's their close proximity to the ground or their unbridled curiosity and general lack of schedule, but given the time and freedom to explore nature, children will uncover where all the cool bugs and lizards cruise; handy know-how when its time for Mantis feeding.
The bug hunters quickly caught three grasshoppers and ran, with cupped hands and loud exclamations of their hunting prowess, back to Mrs. Hawkins lanai. The boys worked together to pop open the tub and quickly insert the three surprised grasshoppers.
Mantis went right to work stalking the leggy lunch. In less than a minute, the Green King of the Tub turned it's lime face and mirrored eyes in a subtle gaze straight at the nearest grasshopper. In a blink of an eye and one swift swoop, the bewildered veggie-eater was snached and inserted into Mantis's mouth. Mantis started with Grassy's head, eating away like it was munching corn on the cob. We watched with grotesque fascination as Mantis' bottom jaw opened up with mandables that simultaneously held and dimembered the grasshopper. Mantis even paused to look directly at us. The whole scene was straight out of Aliens vs Predator, except this death was totally natural; the real stuff wildlife safaris are made of.
Since that first feeding, we have captured enough Mantis food that we are getting to know it's diet. An afternoon feeder, Mantis will ignore bugs until dinnertime. Mantis doesn't waste a glance at flies, stink bugs, and crickets but gorges on grasshoppers, bees, and cockroaches. Children imitate the Mantis Dance; gentle swaying motions followed with swift snatches. They try to get Mantis to look at them with its green lake eyes that make you feel observed, even when its Mantis in the jar.
Mantis' food hunters earned the right to name the new class pet: Jabba the Mantis. May the force be with you, Jabba.
Krista Joan says:
My mission is to teach, train, and testify in resistance to the white supremacy of my ancestors. My personal choices are political, powerful, and practical. Let's trash waste.