[our praying mantis feeding on a moth]
My boys have a very cool pet.
It is a 3 inch long male praying mantis.
Their dad found it at our doorstep on Malcolm’s 7th birthday.
Since then he has been telling his friends in school about his very cool birthday present from his dad.
The boys were very excited about their new pet.
The little one squealed with delight just looking at it.
We got him a house and my older boy was eager to feed him food.
He thought it must love leaves, since its look-alike, the grasshopper is a leaf lover.
I was clueless but thought it was a good guess until some internet research revealed that praying mantis are not herbivores.
In fact, they were voracious meat eater who prey on other insects such as mosquitoes, flies, moths, butterflies, spiders and crickets.
They prefer their meals alive and kicking, and would not touch dead insects.
This had since became our daily woe and challenge – to find live food for our pet
In the beginning we managed to catch some cockroaches around the house to feed it.
Its daily diet consists of live cockroaches, moths, and butterflies.
But the moth and butterfly supply seemed to be dwindling by the day since they only appear during certain time of the year.
This meant that the primary choice of meat were the cockroaches since they could be found quite easily.
Well, I hate cockroaches.
But somehow being a mother and knowing that there was a starving pet waiting to be fed made me brave.
Hunting live cockroaches around the house became part of my daily ritual.
Instead of screaming hysterically, now I think “food!”, and instinctively reaches for the fishing net (I bought it for my hunting endeavors).
Catching live cockroaches has got to be one of my biggest achievements at 38 years of age.
[our praying mantis feeding on a cockroach]
Although fascinating, the praying mantis does have a rather cruel way of feeding.
After gripping its prey with its lightning fast front claws, it would bite the prey’s neck to paralyze it before eating
It would rip off and chew parts of its preys’ body while they continued to struggle.
It could be quite devastating and traumatizing for a child to watch a beautiful butterfly devoured by a ferocious predator.
We took the opportunity to explain to Malcolm how this is necessary to maintain nature’s balance.
Through this pet, he learned about the food chain, the natural order of things and the importance of maintaining this delicate natural balance.
It was really cool how much we learned through this little creature.
Now, we have a little problem at hand.
We will be traveling in a few days’ time and if left alone, the praying mantis will most likely be dead by the time we come home.
We are contemplating whether to leave the arduous task of catching insects to our elderly parents or just let the praying mantis return to the wild.
I am thinking of the latter.
If so, my boys will go through another valuable lesson about letting go.0