Sex cannibalism in the suburbs

I would like to tell you the story of the praying mantis which has, as of late, made a home on the screen door to my patio.

He appeared there, oh, a week ago. Seemingly caught between the glass and the screen. I am not enamored of bugs, so I made the decision that I would not open the door and would, instead, allow him to die between it and the screen. It was a harsh but fair sentence.

But then something happened!

He began to catch little bugs and eat them. At first I thought they came through a little hole in the screen just above him. But then I realized, no, the praying mantis could actually fit himself out of the little crack between the screen and the door. He was not trapped! He had simply decided to live there, between my door and screen. And to eat every bug that dared come his way.

For the past week, I have walked by to look at him every couple of hours. Sometimes he is in the middle of sucking out the insides of a fly caught between his little hook-like appendages. Most of the time he’s just chilling. As I work at home and my kids are in school all day, I am a sad and lonely man, so I have taken to talking to him. 

“Hey dude,” I might say. “You’re pretty gross, but thanks for eating those bugs.”

He never responds.

Yesterday, something terrifying happened.

As I was (carefully!) walking out of the patio door in order to grill some steaks for dinner, I noticed another large bug was attached to him.

A FEMALE PRAYING MANTIS.

They were locked in their ancient praying mantis dance. My new friend doing what nature implored him to do, even if it meant his grisly end. I was momentarily disturbed, but eventually steeled myself and told myself that “such is the way of the world.”  I may have hummed the chorus to “The Circle of Life” as well. Not that this really made me feel better. 

Moments ago, I walked by the screen door and looked up to where my new friend had made his home for such a brief but happy time. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

image

HE’S ALIVE!!

I am not a religious man, but for a while I thanked God Almighty for sparing him. Then I sought a higher power – Wikipedia – and realized that only a few species of mantis actually practice sex cannibalism. The fellow who (still!) lives on my screen door is one of the lucky ones who gets to mate and live to tell the tale. Though I’m sure that, like most males, he exaggerates.

I’m moving in just over two weeks. I hope he can hold on that long. It’s going to get cold this weekend so I’m not sure if he will. And now that I think about it, the guy buying my house asked me to replace the screen door because it’s got a shitload of holes in it. I fear my friend is going to die pretty soon one way or the other.

Before he does, though, I probably need to give him a name. Any ideas?

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the national baseball writer for NBCSports.com. He writes about things other than sports at Craigcalcaterra.com. He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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