As a kid, I was delighted to bring home from the garden store a precious treasure. A mystery so incomprehensible at the time, that I didn’t want to even touch it for fear of ruining the magic… it was a preying mantis nest, and inside I was told was a creature that defied imagination. I checked the nest everyday, awaiting the visual display of swarming mantis’ freed from their turban like enclosure and set loose to help our garden. I never actually saw a preying mantis emerge, but a few weeks later, I found a surprisingly large mantis sitting atop a bush in our front yard. Enjoying the fearless exuberance of a young kid, I immediately picked it up and let it sit on my shoulder. I continued to do this for months, as the mantis settled in to a routine in our front yard, and I enjoyed the element of hide and seek amongst the leaves. Despite her capacity for movement, she always stayed close, and I came to think of her as an insectivorous, if unconventional, pet. Sure I would sometimes get wary when she got close to my head, knowing full well what happens to male preying mantis’ that misbehave. Sadly, our friendship was not to last. After searching for her everywhere in the front yard for multiple days without a single sighting, my dad admitted that in fact our mantis had been crushed in the vice like grip of the garage door 😦 I have never attempted to befriend a preying mantis since, but was surprised to find perched atop our little mandarin tree, a little mantis searching for food. So far I have seen this little mantis atop the Mandarin and scavenging among the branches of our Mexican key lime on the other side of the walk way. From the size of its abdomen I would say it was been munching away heartily on the many insects in our yard, and assuming they are able to avoid the dinosaur jaws of our rogue chickens, maybe I get a chance at another front yard friend!