We found this guy at our doorstep last Friday afternoon.
It was a deja vu moment.
6 years ago, a similar guy showed up at our doorstep on my elder son’s 7th birthday.
He thought it was a present from his Dad.
And my boys had their first praying mantis pet.
We were just reminiscing the days where we had our first mantis.
And lamenting how hard it is these days to catch one.
The NParks people are doing a good job keeping our parks green and keeping bugs away.
We hardly see any creepy crawlies around our estate.
It was easier to find them when we were living overseas.
The boys brought home a couple of geckos during a hiking trip when we were living in Alabama.
These green fellas were cute, according to my boys. (and no, I don’t like them)
They crawled all over us when carried but won’t move around much if left on their own.
We didn’t build any nice homes for them but let them live with the boys’ toys and hunt their own food around the house.
One eventually died and we let the other one go.
We also found a brown widow in our backyard, tucked in a corner of the seat of an outdoor chair and decided to keep her.
The brown widow is the cousin of the more infamous black widow.
We learned from then on, to never assume that the chairs were safe for sitting and always check the bottom of the seats.
She had a fat butt and could be identified by the orange hourglass on her belly.
She uses the same neurotoxic venom as its cousin but is less dangerous because she delivers less venom in her bite.
They came out from hibernation when the weather started to warm up.
That was when we couldn’t do without the pest control guys.
She built the strongest and stickiest of homes, definitely not those that could be destroyed by a gust of wind.
During the time that we had her, she managed to kill a few other species of spiders.
We dropped in those spiders as ‘food’ and they were found dead, wrapped up in sticky silk the next day.
We weren’t sure whether she sucked the juices out of them but she is known to eat up the male after mating.
We tried to verify that by dropping in what looked like a male brown widow but that got her killed instead.
Till today, we still couldn’t solve the mysterious death.
These creepy crawlies often don’t live long.
But they lived long enough for the boys to learn that keeping pets requires work. (and for me to find my hidden courage and capacity to like these creatures)
Finding food for their pet was one of those work.
They had to catch them alive because these creepy crawlies like their food fresh, just like us.
And for every creepy crawly they had, they learned about death and saying goodbyes.
It was perhaps one of the toughest lesson for them and they remember.
Last Friday, they were thrilled when mantis showed up.
But that excitement didn’t last long.
They loved how alert the mantis was.
They loved his vibrant green coat and how he eagerly propped up and peered into my camera.
They loved his vividness.
But they also sensed that he was scared and was trying to escape.
And they were most worried to see him die.
They had the mantis long enough to show him to their Dad when he came home from work.
Both boys decided to let the mantis go that very evening.
I was the one who was reluctant, knowing how hard it was to have a mantis showed up at our doorstep!
But I agreed to it and later realised that maybe I should be glad that they showed kindness and could empathize with their creepy crawly friends.