Cochise County Insects: The Praying Mantis (Female)


That the praying mantis, Mantis religiosa, was a pregnant female was obvious. Cochise County, Arizona, had come through for us again. My wife and I love these bright green insects above all other six-leggeds; every contact is a true privilege.

Just about a year ago, a male showed up, hanging on the outside of my office window screen. He earned himself a post, complete with photographs.

This female made her appearance in a more dramatic–and hazardous–way.

Out back of where we park the camp trailer, the monsoon rains of 2013 had produced an awesome crop of wild, happy vegetation. Some plants grew taller than me this summer, and there were a lot of them. That specific area, however, needed to be weed whacked for real. We’re going to have a friend with a backhoe dig a wide, shallow hole right there, then set a 2825 gallon water storage tank partially underground.

There were other things going on. The brush cutter didn’t get to start doing its thing till pretty late in the afternoon. The shadows were already getting long, and the job ahead of us looked a tad intimidating.

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Still, the Rhino brush cutter blades on the Ryobi weed whacker power head make pretty quick work of it. It pays to be careful, of course. Mojave green rattlesnakes frequent this acreage on occasion, and there were five inch long desert centipedes resting under two of the four old rotten pieces of OSB strand board that had to be moved elsewhere.

The variety of vegetation is virtually endless, too. In among the rest of it, there are plants that produce little green gourds and others that have fruits or seed pods that look like gourds.

One of those gourd-looking things suddenly moved under its own power.

Oh. A closer look revealed a large praying mantis, her abdomen swollen and ready to give birth shortly. Not a gourd. Not a gourd at all.

I’d just weed whacked that spot. Had I hurt her?

Thankfully, no. A closer inspection of the beautiful insect showed all appendages at full strength and length and in good working order.


The thing that makes Pam and me love the mantids the most, without a doubt, is the fact that they’re just as attracted to us as we are to them. Every praying mantis we’ve encountered in the past ten years has been interested in being friendly, seeming to know we’d never ever wish them the slightest harm.

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This lady praying mantis seems to be as interested in me (and my camera) as I am interested in her.  How can you not love that?

This lady praying mantis seems to be as interested in me (and my camera) as I am interested in her. How can you not love that?

Clearly, I’d rocked her world with the weed whacker, but she didn’t seem to hold it against me. As I circled her position, looking to get as many camera angles as possible, she’d move a little–sometimes–but she never went far, and she kept a curious eye on my activities without ever showing the slightest bit of alarm.

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In fact, the more pictures I took, the more the idea kept nagging at me: It seemed like she really, really wanted to say hello to the camera. It didn’t even bother her when I got behind her and took pictures that made her butt look big.

Most females would complain about that.

Most small creatures would be nervous about a huge predator (like me) circling them closely, but not this girl.  We had an understanding.

Most small creatures would be nervous about a huge predator (like me) circling them closely, but not this girl. We had an understanding.

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The praying mantis didn't even ask if this photo angle made her butt look big.  What a sweetheart!

The praying mantis didn’t even ask if this photo angle made her butt look big. What a sweetheart!

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Finally, I decided to test my theory. Was this praying mantis truly attracted to me and to the camera? Did we have a real mental, perhaps even spiritual, rapport? Or was I imagining things?

There was one way to find out. I circled back in front of her, pointed the camera lens at her face from a distance of no more than four or five inches, held position…and, yes! She scrambled forward, grateful that I’d gotten her message.

The instant she could reach the camera, she climbed right up over the camera lens, onto my hand, up my shirtsleeve…and disappeared from view, somewhere around behind me, hitching a ride.

Cool. Way, way cool.

Up she came, struggling to get closer.

Up she came, struggling to get closer.

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...until she could, and did, climb right up over the camera lens and then onto me.  Welcome home, beautiful.

…until she could, and did, climb right up over the camera lens and then onto me. Welcome home, beautiful.

With the praying mantis out of sight but definitely somewhere up high on my shirt, what next? Eh?

Eventually, I decided to move out of the weed whacking area, over to open ground. Perhaps, if Pam was still in the laundry shed, I could ask her if the visitor was still hitching a ride.

You’d think I could feel where she was, but hey. I’m not that sensitive. I’m a guy.

I never did find Pam, so it was up to me.

At one point, the mantis moved around–having traveled up my left arm–and meandered down my right sleeve. I’m not the best left handed photographer in the world but did manage to snap one shot of that.

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When my new friend reached the wrist on that right side, however, she turned around and headed back uphill, once again disappearing somewhere behind me.

Ver-r-ry carefully, I shucked my shirt. Yep. There she was, sure enough–and she didn’t mind meandering onto the back of my left hand, either.

Hello, Dolly.

Hello, Dolly.

From there, it seemed like it was time for her to get on with her praying mantis duties and me to get on with my weed whacking. Once deposited on the ground, she posed long enough for a nice contrast shot (mantis green against our red clay earth), then moved easily and surely on into low ground cover.

These insects eat a lot of pests we humans generally don’t like. It might well have been time for her supper.

She posed for a great shot, praying mantis green against the red clay earth.

She posed for a great shot, praying mantis green against the red clay earth.

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This afternoon’s photo shoot was special indeed. The praying mantis and I had a great time together, but beyond that, the photos themselves are quite revealing. For example, authorities on the praying mantis tend to underscore the power of those massive forearms.

Quite a few of these pics give a really good look at those.

UPDATE: April 26, 2016 Gadzooks! Our friend Marianne sent us several photos of her precious praying mantis, the late Charlie II. I intended to post those here (with her permission, of course). In fact, I thought I had posted them…but apparently not. This is, perhaps, an illustration of my wife’s conviction that she’s not the only one in this house with Alzheimer’s….

Okay. No excuses. Here (finally) are those “Marianne and Charlie” photos.

Marianne and Charlie.

Marianne and Charlie.

Marianne and Charlie.

Marianne and Charlie.

Marianne and Charlie.

Marianne and Charlie.

Marianne and Charlie.

Marianne and Charlie.

36 thoughts on “Cochise County Insects: The Praying Mantis (Female)

  1. Hello, I really enjoyed your praying mantis article. I just finished preparing a habitat for a female which looks exactly like the one depicted in your wonderful photos.

    Unfortunately, rather than a narrow weed whacker escape, mine fell victim to a neighbor’s gardening shears — the two right hind legs are chopped off at the knee, and the front one up to the claw. Fortunately, she is eating wet cat food and defrosted brine shrimp from a chop stick while sitting in my lap, and does groom herself after her meals. Obviously, she will have to be hand-fed for the rest of her life.

    She can climb up the branch I provided and uses the hundreds of holes I drilled to clamber to the top of her habitat.

    I have tried to ascertain what specific type of mantis she is, so far without any success. I would appreciate your opinion.

    Warm regards, Ingrid

  2. Thanks, Ingrid. Your “retirement habitat” for your mantis sounds awesome. I don’t know if I can pin down the specific type, though, at least no farther than I did for the one shown on this page (Mantis religiosa). Trying to pin things farther than that didn’t go well for me when I wrote this article, either. 🙂

  3. Thank you for your kind reply. I am so glad I found your web site, and enjoy all of your articles and photos. My younger son lives at the foot of South Mountain in Phoenix and he never seems to have a dull moment, encountering such a variety of wild life. He finally saw javelina, lying in wait one night, wondering where the putrid stench which permeated his house came from. It’s awesome that you got such excellent photos.

    I think I found out the species of “our” praying mantises. They are not native but African, “Sphodromantis lineola”.

    The give-away was the lack of dark spots on the inside of the forelegs, as in the Chinese mantis, and the light dot on the wings. People do keep them as pets. I’m not sure that I dare to let mine crawl on my hand, those front hooks and spines on that 3 inch creature are intimidating!

    “Gimpy” seems to adjust quite well to captivity, and has learned to hook onto the perforated lid of his habitat. Not bad for a tripod :).

    Warm regards, Ingrid

  4. LOL! Love the “tripod” designation!

    Glad to hear you were able to identify your mantis, and of course also delighted to know you enjoy the articles. We’ve been on this property the better part of 7 years now, and not once during that time had I ever had a chance at a photo of a javelina. Only the night vision monocular made the pictures of the skunk pigs possible.

  5. “The thing that makes Pam and me love the mantids the most, without a doubt, is the fact that they’re just as attracted to us as we are to them. Every praying mantis we’ve encountered in the past ten years has been interested in being friendly, seeming to know we’d never ever wish them the slightest harm.”

    How can an insect make eye contact and be so trusting? It defies comprehension and simply must be magical. Gimpy’s rear right leg withered off entirely to her thigh. Yet she happily snatches meal worms and wax worms from my tweezers and works her way up to the perforated lid of her habitat like a rock climber.

    Today, after devouring her meal worm, she climbed into my cupped palm, plopped down her large rear, and groomed her forearms. A totally enchanting moment. Obviously, she is not ready to be “put out her misery,” despite of her handicaps.

    Warm regards, Ingrid

  6. Obviously. Soul is Soul, no matter the form it inhabits. In addition to our local wildlife in this physical world, I see tons of evidence in my dream state experiences, where an animal may show up in human form or a human in animal form, and communication is not infrequently in English even when it’s an animal doing the talking.

  7. Sadly, Gimpy died in the afternoon of 11-14-2015. The day before then, I noticed that she was weakening, and was no longer able to climb up to the lid of her habitat. Her repeated attempts and subsequent tumbles caused me to take her out of her enclosure. She immediately calmed down and cuddled in my palm like a little kitten. I took her upstairs to keep her close to me for the night.

    No, I am neither hallucinating nor anthropomorphizing, but this little creature then began to groom one of my fingers with her little bristly mouth, as if to affirm the bond and that we had formed. Afterward, she groomed her own forelegs and fell asleep in my hand. I gently placed her on a soft bed in her habitat, and slept with her on one side of my pillow, and my cat Trixie on the other side. Maybe I am also a tad different :).

    Gimpy never moved during the night and the next morning she refused to eat. She did take some water from a tiny spoon. Later, I noticed that she was in labor, attempting to expel an ootheca. In hindsight, I might have tried to pull out the hardening exudate with tweezers to maybe help her along when her contractions stopped.

    Remarkably, her death was very peaceful. There were no contortions and she looked as if she simply fell asleep on her side. Hopefully, she did create offspring earlier this fall.

    But I am grieving for my wondrous, magical and adorable little Cutie. Well, perhaps her little soul will appear to me in a dream. If talking critters appear to you maybe it can happen to me.

    Warm regards, Ingrid

  8. Everything you wrote sounds right-on 100% normal to me. Pam, too, though she hasn’t heard about this yet; I’ll have to read it to her tomorrow. I have no doubt whatsoever that she was “affirming your bond” when she groomed your finger.

    Your final paragraph reminded me of an experience I probably wrote about, though I couldn’t point to the post if I did. When I was trucking in the winter of 2006-2007 on the Roan Plateau in Colorado, hauling water, our night shift once had an all night job hauling water to frac tanks on a remote location that involved a run of several miles each way along a dirt road. On my first run that night, I observed a bit of road kill, a young coyote lying dead in the middle of the road. The speed limit was 25 mph, but somebody had still managed to hit this youngster.

    I immediately began plotting and scheming. Our trucks were too close together on the return run to the supply pond, but on my 2nd run to the tanks, I had it figured out. We were spread out more, and by dropping back a bit, I knew I could stop briefly without any of my fellow employees being the wiser. I jumped out of the truck, grabbed a busted-off branch lying beside the road (so I would not need to come in physical contact with the dead animal), scooped the body up carefully and as gently as possible, and carried it to a sizeable bush some 30 yards off to the side of the road. I then eased the body off the branch, taking care to arrange it so that if it were to use its dead eyes, it could look out over the snow and watch everything going on in the high country night.

    Then I blessed the situation in the name of the Sugmad (“Sugmad” is an ancient name for God, used by those of us who follow Eckankar, the religion of the Light and Sound of God), abandoned that pair of “monkey face” work gloves on the spot (I had a dozen fresh pair in the truck), returned to the truck, and got back to work.

    As I was driving off, in soft focus in my inner vision, I saw and felt the coyote appear and give me a kiss on the right cheek. “You’re welcome,” I said.

    You also provided a bit of education. I never knew that the mantis egg cases (which we often see on the sides of the Border Fort walls) were called oothecae. (Plural for ootheca, at least if we’re sticking to Latin.)

  9. Growing up in a small Bavarian town as a post-war refugee from Austria, I was schooled by Catholic nuns — the only game in town. At the age of six, I was slapped very hard by one of those nuns when I doubted the fable of Adam and Eve.

    Luckily, my Mother, a sophisticated and educated woman who adhered to no organized religion and was vetted and allowed to work for the American occupation in 1945 (scandalous, in the view of her neighbors), comforted me and actually was proud of me. She shared with me her belief that no energy in the universe is ever lost. She didn’t use the term “soul” but that is what she must have meant.

    So I do believe that Gimpy had a soul which connected with mine, at a time when I was distraught and needed a purpose and distraction to recover from my distress.

    Tonight, I built a little funeral pyre out of twigs and leaves from my garden and cremated Gimpy. I simply could not bury her in the ground, she so disliked being on the bottom of her habitat, and obviously was born to be a bush climber.

    My research showed that my awe of this little created is not unique. Numerous cultures have held the praying mantis on an exalted plane, marveling at its unique and apparent mystical attributes.

    I totally understand your reverence for the deceased Coyote. And here is one of my favorite Western songs about these canines:

    Don Edwards – Coyotes – YouTube

  10. Beautiful song, Ingrid. I’d not heard it before, but I won’t forget it now. The cremation sounds “right on” to me. And your Mother sounds more than special, too.

  11. Hi Fred, I hope that you and Pam are doing fine. I’m so glad you enjoyed the coyote song. I live near a golf course and adjacent shrub land, and have seen coyotes trot down my street.

    I miss Gimpy’s company and taking care of her, and I have just bought a Giant African Mantis nymph online. Who knows, maybe she/he and I will also form an affectionate bond.

    The Republican presidential debates this evening were very interesting. The current administration has been a disaster for this country and, hopefully, a new wind will be blowing.

    Warm regards, Ingrid and son Tom

  12. Hi, Ingrid (and son Tom). Good to hear from you–and good to hear about your new nymph, too. We’ll be looking forward to hear about his/her progress with you. Looks like you got hooked on Mantis care the same way I got hooked on cats. I’d never had a cat as a pet until a little lost calico kitten came to our door in the rain one evening–that was my 2nd ex and me, in Eugene, Oregon, circa 1973. Wound up calling her Cindy (short for cinnamon). I was 30 years old at the time and have been a cat person ever since. (Gato is curled asleep next to my computer tower at this moment.)

    Pam is doing quite well lately. In some ways; we do need to get her eyes checked as it’s looking like time to remove her cataracts. But she’s kept eating well for more than a week now and is holding above 85 pounds (around 86 tonight) with noticeable muscle mass returning. A very good thing indeed.

    I planned all day to watch the debates and then, come the time, clean forgot about them until it was too late. Palm to forehead slap. But I did read some of the transcripts online and watched a few “pundit recaps”–which, in my opinion, are far from “expert” no matter how many times they pat themselves on the back(s). Pam and I TOTALLY agree with your analysis of the current administration and hope for better times ahead.

  13. Good to hear from you–and good to hear about your new nymph, too. We’ll be looking forward to hear about his/her progress with you. Looks like you got hooked on Mantis care the same way I got hooked on cats.

    Hi Fred, my L2/3 Giant African Mantis arrived just after Christmas from a breeder in Oklahoma. She immediately perched on my hand and snatched tiny fruit flies which I had coaxed within her reach. She molted one week later and I was awed by watching this transformation. I named her Fandango :).

    I am so happy you rescued the little kitten. I too have a rescue cat which had been left to fend by herself when she only five weeks old. She was a feral kitten, and now is 18 1/2 years old, and the most loving and smart pet you would ever want to be owned by.

    My once-in-a-life time animal soul mate remains my dog Rocky, a rescued pit bull/mastiff — the incredible expanding dog — who ended up weighing 140 lb. Our depth of communication and mutual tenderness was indescribable. I still mourn his passing eight years ago.

    I hope that Pam is continuing to keep up her nourishment. I also know too well the utter disdain for food and the struggle to regain an appetite. (Long story, to be told at another time.)

    Concerning the Republican contest for nomination, I am truly amused. No one, so far, has been able to come with any “dirt” regarding Donald Trump. And I like his incorrect political approach. Who knows, maybe we do need a ‘bully” to stand up against disrespectful and mooching countries. However, I would prefer a dignified statesman.

    Warm regards, Ingrid

  14. Great update on your Giant African Mantis; thanks.

    Pam certainly understands your bond with Rocky. Once upon a time, in addition to a St. Bernard and an Old English Mastiff, she raised Great Danes, developed a downright incredible strain of “silver blue” coloring. Unfortunately, as soon as she had to give that up (another long story to possibly match your appetite struggle), people immediately “downbred” every one of the critters and that strain is no more.

    We’re both rooting for Trump. In fact, we even appreciate his style, totally convinced that no “dignified statesman” could ever possibly reverse our nation’s currently disastrous course. Quite frankly, we doubt the Darth Vaders of the world would be anything but contemptuous of a lesser force as things stand today. We’ll vote for whoever gets the nomination, but our #1 preference is Trump by a huge margin.

    Pam is also doing quite well these days, taking in a pretty fair number of calories on most days. She’s made it back as high as 88 pounds and has not fallen below 85 for a while now.

    Warm regards back at you. 🙂

  15. Hi Fred, I am so glad that Pam is doing OK and hope that she is keeping her weight up. It can be a struggle when one is stressed out and feels as if there is a choke hold around one’s neck, and all food evokes a sense of nausea. I had good luck with Ensure to get some calories down in liquid form.

    Alright, I am convinced and will root for Donald Trump also. It’s a bit unfortunate that he disparaged George W. Bush as much as he did in the last debate, but Marco Rubio’s was a bit overwrought.

    My giant African praying mantis Fandango has molted 4 times since 12-26-2015. She has a great, large hexagon habitat, decorated with suitable plastic foliage and a walking and molting bar. I am very enthralled with her and let her out at least once a day. She willingly climbs onto my hand, and also sits beside me and my computer in a little plastic tree. She is fascinated with the computer monitor. I am simply in awe how such a little insect can be so personable and tame.

    I’ve had a few issues with my old plumbing, microwave oven, printer, stereo speakers, sprinkler timer…. I was able to fix everything myself except having to get the sewer roots machine-snaked out. Must be my German genes to try to tackle and resolve problems on my own :)!

    I hope things are going well at your border fort and that you are enjoying the cool weather.

    Warm regards, Ingrid

  16. Hi, Ingrid. I have to admit the slam on George W. Bush was interesting. I remember very clearly when Pam and I were living in Anaconda, Montana, and it became obvious he was going to take us to war with or without U.N. or coalition approval. I said to Pam, “Well, he may be an a**hole, but at least he’s OUR a**hole!” Which was my way of saying two things: That I didn’t like his policies all that much, and that I was truly grateful we did not have Al Gore in office when the buildings went down. Later research (my research) showed that Saddam Hussein truly did have at least one monstrous Weapon of Mass Destruction in play. He was using engineering as such a weapon, draining the marshes upon which the “marsh Arabs” depended. By the time his regime was toppled and the drainage program reversed, something like 325,000 locals had perished. Maybe learned that trick from the U.S., come to think of it; our government’s “kill the buffalo and starve the Indians” program has a lot of parallels. Of course, Hussein wasn’t trying to move any of the marsh Arabs onto reservations, so there is a limit to the analogy….

    I mostly disliked G.W. as a President because of his decidedly liberal policies on big government immigration. He was more Democrat than some of the Democrats on immigration.

    Fandango sounds Fantastic. Have to admit I know nothing about a “walking and molting bar”. Care to clue me in? 😉

    Back atcha on the warm regards.

    Fix it yourself German genes? That could explain a lot; my ancestry is half German or close to it.

  17. You are so funny, OK here is my feeble attempt: A praying mantis went into a bar looking for barflies….(Blue bottle flies, calliphora vomitoria — I just had to state their ugly name to “deinsectisize” those rather useful creatures.)

    I am looking forward to Fandango’s graduation to larger prey such as Dubia roaches.

    Donald Trump taking on the Pope — I loved it! I did some research and found out that his “earthy” style among presidential candidates is not unprecedented. During the 1912 campaign, Theodore Roosevelt called Taft a “fathead” with “the brains of a guinea pig,” and Taft responded in kind, saying Roosevelt’s followers were “radicals” and “neurotics.”

    Warm regards from one Kraut to another ;),


  18. You betcha, Ingrid; Presidential politics could get pretty rowdy from the very beginning. Or any politics for that matter; here’s a link to a cartoon slide show you might find intriguing (or in my case, addictive). The surely do provide a slice a American political history insight:

    And one more link, to an article about the nastiness involved in a Founding Fathers campaign, no less:

    I read Donald Trump’s first (and classic) book, The Art of the Deal, the first year it was published. Just bought a copy for my Kindle and am reading it again. The man’s capacity for getting things done is mind boggling.

    Warm regards back atcha.

    Gotta say, Pam and I are thrilled with Trump’s continued meteoric rise to the nomination. Also, I woke up early today and could not get back to sleep, realizing I needed to write him (Trump) with a couple of “FYI heads-up” tidbits about THE WALL. One, that when it is completed, his administration needs to be ready for a major uptick in both mental health and crime issues as great numbers of addicts go through cold turkey withdrawal. Two, that he’d need to have somebody check it out, but that I’d heard our current border fence (such as it is) is built 10 feet inside the U.S. border. If that’s true, knowing that in advance of negotiating for Mexico to pay for the wall could be helpful.

    On the Kraut issue, my family told me when I was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army (1964-65) that I had a distant cousin there by the name of Ingrid. Don’t remember her last name and never did look her up; I seldom left the base, and her residence was not nearby.

  19. I managed to videotape Fandango climbing up on my computer speaker, swaying in rhythm to Lady Gaga’s song “Do What You Want.” Even if you see it, you might not believe your lying eyes that this insect has a perception we simply cannot understand.

    Thank you so much for your links. I am still laughing about the exchange between Jefferson and Taft. The Puck cartoons are awesome works of art, and enlightened me of the chaos of the early 19th century and the inevitable rise of labor unions. I especially liked the Making Of A Senator.

    Talking about borders, a long time ago, I took a 4 wheeler car camp trip into the San Diego wilderness, and stepped over a ridiculous four foot wire fence into Mexico. There even was an abandoned US border patrol shack on our side.

    Donald Trump is definitely growing on me with his authenticity. It’s about time for some swagger for our USA :)!

    Warn regards, Ingrid

  20. Oops, I meant to write “the exchange between Jefferson and Adams.” 40 lashes with a wet noodle for me. Ingrid

  21. Awesome. Fandango doing the fandango to Lady Gaga, that is. But hey, he did tell you that was his name.

    Yeah, about the border: We have a friend who video recorded himself jumping back and forth across the line in 2010. He even put it out there on YouTube with commentary. Don’t believe it ever got many views.

    Awesome: Four hours ago, Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump and ALL the major news outlets covered it, several of them live. Cruz and Rubio have to be looking for fresh underpants! I was in the Post Office today, chatted with the clerk, told her (apropos of the little talk we’d just had) that, “This is not a political debate.”

    A lady waiting in line yelled out, “I love political debates!” I was just finished up, so I turned around and we got to telling each other how much we’d loved last night’s debate. Then she said, “You’ve got to be supporting Trump, right?”

    “All the way!” I replied. The other people (several) didn’t say anything, but they sure enough heard us!

    Jefferson and Taft…now, that would have been interesting. Wet noodles are flexible, though, so I figure you’ve done lashed your own self. Say Hi to Fandango for me.

  22. Fresh underpants, LOL! You sure hit the nail on the head with that priceless turn of phrase! Bill O’Reilley was spot-on in his recent talking points on the state of affairs in America and in his defense of Donald Trump.

    Fandango got to meet my gardener Ruben. I gave him his first job in the United States:). He did not cross the border illegally, has the greatest work ethic, and has held a job as a tree trimmer and gardener at the nearby Virginia Country Club for over twenty years. (He does the lawns for quite a few people in my neighborhood, after his regular work hours, and everyone likes and admires him.)

    Ruben grew up dirt poor and never had the benefit of an education. But his oldest son graduated last year from Long Beach State University with a degree in civil engineering! I would bet that he would not be in favor of the dregs of Mexican society sneaking across the border.

    But I digress — Fandango tilted her little head toward him while sitting on my hand and then calming starting grooming her endlessly long legs. Too cute, I just adore her!

    I got your book on, one for me and two for my sons. It might be a while before I have time to read it, but am looking forward to it.

    Meanwhile, warm regards, Ingrid

  23. Ruben sounds like an absolutely awesome gentleman–and no, he’d be unlikely to appreciate the “dregs” crossing the border illegally.

    Very cool to hear you ordered “all those books” (3). I do believe that’s the largest purchase by one customer to date. Whenever you do find the time to read your copy, keep me posted. 🙂

    Just got back from a weekend run to Utah to look at a possible second home within a couple of hours driving distance from Pam’s eldest daughter’s place. Pictures didn’t look bad. Eyeball investigation was another matter entirely. The final “rejection clincher”: Two cows in a small pen bordering the property…pen not cleaned…and one cow warned me with a croupy cough, so despite looking okay weight-wise and all, they were also sick. Plus a tumbledown shed on the property with literally dozens of hornets’ nests under the roof boards—and Pam’s deathly allergic to bee venom. Worth the trip, though; now have a great connection with a marvelous real estate agent lady. 🙂

  24. Well, I must say, I am blown away by your intimate story with the praying mantis and find myself relieved that my grieving over just an insect that I discovered a year and a half ago that I got to take care of for 7 weeks is not completely unusual. The intimacy concept may be human made, in that because we see that they noticed our Movement, we may attribute more intelligence and intuition than that. But I really felt close to my mantis in a way I haven’t felt close to other animals I’ve taken care of! It was an intense 7 weeks in which I kept her in my bathroom because it was winter here in New York and I knew that she would die outside. She eventually climbed too many things and fell too many times. The most intimate part of our relationship though was at the very end, when she let me feed her honey water and a syringe… Something that I learned from the internet… And raw ground beef until she couldn’t lift her head any longer. Was the saddest goodbye I can’t remember, since my loss of Aretha, my 21 year old cat 7 years before. How do we sensitive Souls in human bodies get over this lost stuff I wonder? It really afflicts me everyday and I wish I could just feel sad and then get over it. I feel like I dragged along my grief from all of my losses everyday of my life. Like a big ball and chain. But I thank you for bringing this up and sharing so openly about your relationship. I can’t say I want to find another one because this one found me just before winter began a year-and-a-half ago. But there is a part of me that wonders if I will see one this season or at the end of the season when I met mine two novembers ago. Thanks again for writing and I hope I’m able to find your posts in the future! It was a lark that I found these just now here in the middle of the night in New York! Thank you again. Marianne, the praying mantis devotee…P.s. I still have a 10 of wonderful photos of my praying mantis who are named Charlie the second, including some videos that are absolutely uncanny to me to this day. Wish I could post but they don’t let you post pictures at least in a reply message I have found here.

  25. Marianne, the only way I’ve learned to deal with loss, be it the loss of an insect or other being, is to “compartmentalize”. Or at least I think that’s the term. I’m able to “shut the door” on one room (let’s say a grief room) by putting my attention totally somewhere else, such as a needed task, study, current relationship or whatever. The “closed room” is still there, of course; if I allow myself to indulge in nostalgia, I can easily focus on an event from 60 years ago and crank up a fine dose of sadness, regret, yearning, etc. The good thing is that I’ve learned to let such emotional meanderings go on for a while…but then tell myself, “Okay, that’s enough time on the pity potty” (or other emotional carousel) and once again leave the room, closing the door behind me.

    Bottom line, it’s a skill like any other, and it most certainly does take practice. Those who don’t practice enough wind up writing country songs about She Left Me, Digging Up Bones, etc. Great commercial approach for money making music but not so hot for spiritual / emotional balance if the attachments remain attached too tightly for too long.

    About your Charlie II photos, if you could email them to me–my email address is on the Contact page–in .jpg format especially, I could post them as an Update to the main body of the article for you. I have no doubt they’d be awesome additions to the page: “Marianne’s friend Charlie the Second, in living color….”

    If you do send them, please be patient. This is the last time I’ll be able to access my computer for the next eight days or so. Got some offline business to take care of. 🙂

  26. Hi again, ghost 32 writer. Thank you so much for your message and for the detail you went into! I really appreciate it. The real reason that I wrote last night was because up until I read your posts and the post of one of your followers, Ingrid, I had not in my experience seen indication of anybody else on Earth that felt the way I did about my connection to the praying mantis who gifted me with her presence for seven weeks last winter… I find that the best way to grieve something is to be able to share it and not being a pity party but get the feelings out of the dark. It’s been hard to do that because I knew that it was rather strange to have such an intense connection or feeling of connection with an insect! So when I read what I wrote in both your block and some responses, it made me feel like I wasn’t so weird to have found this type of connection. It’s funny though, because while it was happening before she passed away, I wanted it to be the most special relationship that ever existed on the planet, but found the opposite after she died because there was no place to put the feelings and Visions I had during the days that we spent time connecting… I mean what do you do with a relationship like that? There is no answer but the answer we must each find for ourselves. I am somewhat of a writer and so writing about it would be good but I have not let myself because of the unusual nature of a connection between a human and an insect… That being said, I certainly have had my share of pity parties! That’s something different for me but I am quite familiar with them! Anyway, I’m not sure if I wrote to your real email or not so if you want to private message me on Facebook comma you can do that at Marianne osiel Kama since I’m the only person on Facebook with that spelling of that name. Otherwise, I need to know specifically what your email is because I don’t think what I wrote to you in the last many hours got to you. Would love to send photos, as I said before, and you can decide what you want to post of them if any. Don’t know if I will be able to send the video so what I will do is sent to you privately Links of the unlisted YouTube videos of Charlie the second that I have. Sorry to belabor this message and thank you again so very much for your kindness in connecting back with me. Namaste to each one of us, plant, animal, mineral… Or mantid! 🙂

  27. P.s. by the way, I’m somewhat familiar with the religion or frame of thought called eckankar … 2 good friends of mine have been involved in that spirituality for a number of decades.

  28. There you go, Marianne; there are Eckists everywhere! It’s even possible (though certainly not guaranteed) that your friends and I might know, or at least know of each other. It can truly be a small, small world at times. 🙂

    Got the 4 pics of Charlie; thanks. Will post them on the page, though not tonight. Rolled back in from my out of state road trip about 6 hours ago, capping a 1280 mile run which included just a couple of hours of napping in the truck at a truck stop prior to dawn. Other than that nap, been up and at it for 40 hours or so and still have a few things left to accomplish before winding down for the night.

  29. Hi Fred, I must have been a midwife in a past life! This is the second time I had to assist Fandango to successfully molt. During her final molt, about a week ago, she was hanging from her habitat ceiling by a mere shred of her old rear and would have fallen if I had not come to the rescue by letting her crawl on my hand to let her slip out of her old skin.

    A couple of molts before, she decided to climb on a very low perch and I actually hoisted her up to the “molting bar :)” by her loose bottom skin.

    Oh, I should say “he” — Fandango might be a hermaphrodite — she/he has 7 abdominal segments, instead of 6 for a female or 8 for a male.

    Having raised two boys, we’ve had dozens of different pets, from a spider monkey which we ended up giving to a zoologist because he was so difficult, to snakes, mice, guinea pigs etc, aside from cats and dogs. But none of them have mesmerized me more than my praying mantises.

    I hope you and Pam are doing well. I’m fine, aside from being a bit in a funk after having my car rear ended by a guy who has numerous felony and misdemeanor convictions. Supposedly he has insurance but you can imagine what kind of fly-by-night company I’m dealing with. I am still trying to find some quiet time to read your book.

    Warm regards, Ingrid

  30. There’s a book title for you, Ingrid: Mantis Midwifery! 🙂

    The unusual number of abdominal segments is interesting. I’ve known a human hermaphrodite or two but haven’t come across the insect sort–so far as I know. It’s not like I’ve been studying the subject.

    I can pretty much imagine the difficulty of the spider monkey. Wouldn’t care to try that one. Have always had a thing against camels, too, a prejudice I’m pretty sure came from past lives of my own.

    Can’t say Pam is doing all that well physically; we’ve actually talked it over and discovered each of us had come to the conclusion that she probably doesn’t have that long left on this Earth. We’d done that independently, finding (not to our surprise at all) that we were already on the same page when we got around to verbalizing our thoughts. But spiritually, she’s doing very well indeed; her personal development continues to accelerate.

    “Supposedly” he has insurance? Well, if he didn’t pony up the information on his carrier, including name and phone number, let’s hope he’s not fibbing about that. On the other hand, just because he’s a bad dude (and obviously a bad driver as well) does not necessarily mean his insurance carrier (if any) is a loser, too. He undoubtedly (if he has insurance) has been placed in the Assigned Risk pool. Drivers in that pool are randomly assigned to every auto insurance outfit in the state; each company is required by law to cover some of them. So yeah, he might be uninsured, he might be insured with Fly By Night, OR he might be with a recognized carrier. Not that any insurance company will treat you well–they’re all in the business of paying out as little as possible–but some are certainly less awful than others when it comes to bedside manner. Which I should know, having once spent 12 years as a commercial insurance underwriter with several different insurance companies. Been a bunch of years since, but the industry hasn’t changed a bit.

  31. Hi Fred, I am so sorry that Pam is not doing well. I have gleaned from some of your other writings that she had a difficult life before you married her. Please let her know that I think she is a beautiful lady — I saw her wide-eyed photo, looking at that huge slab of meat loaf :). Also tell her that I think that she is intelligent, courageous, and lovable. And please give her a hug from me.

    My car accident seems to be a rather puny affair in light of what is going on with Pam and you. I am always amazed that you are so well versed on any and all subjects. I was too vague when saying that “supposedly” the other driver has insurance. His carrier specializes in low-life clients, including illegal aliens, unlicensed drivers and others who would not get coverage from any main stream company.

    In my case, they are already alluding to the insurer’s non-cooperation clause defense, claiming that their client has not responded to their phone calls. Well, not quite so fast! Through my research, I provided them with three cell phone numbers, three email addresses, his place of employment and phone numbers, the name, address and phone number of his mother, and his facebook web page which includes his picture and states that he is a tow truck driver.

    I did not provide his adult web site accounts which have a rather fuzzy “nude from the waist down” photo, and a little essay of his extremely juvenile sexual phantasy, LOL.

    California case law states, that in order for insurers to deny coverage because of noncompliance, they must establish that the failure to comply caused them substantial prejudice, and that the establishment of liability would have been different had the insured cooperated. But this is a matter of factual determination, of course, and I might just have to go ahead with a small claims action if there is no other resolution. Personal service might be a problem. The guy has 20 misdemeanor and three felony convictions for drug and stolen property offenses since 2010! He was placed on formal probation for three years in 11-2015.

    His non-prosecuted arrests include charges of possession of a deadly weapon and burglary tools.

    I might have one small bit of satisfaction — I filed an SR-1 form with the DMV, and if the punk doesn’t respond to them, his drivers license might be revoked. And his car was completely wrecked while mine is still drivable.

    Fandango is doing well but in no way acts like the fierce predator shown in videos on youtube. The small dubia roach I put in his habitat is almost cuddling up to him like his best friend. I might be doomed to breed blue bottle flies forever to keep him fed. But he is my therapy pet –, whenever I get a bit bent out of shape, I relish his serenity, patience and sweet personality.

  32. Aw-w-w-w! (That’s for Fandango.)

    Sounds like you’re on top of it with your “Poster Boy for Safe Drivers” guy. About the only thing you could add to get any more of my attention on this one…would be to mention that he happens to be an illegal immigrant to boot. (While I was driving an 18 wheeler water truck in Colorado back country during the gas field drilling boom, circa 2008, an illegal immigrant–and improperly licensed–driver lost control on a narrow, steep, rain-slick dirt road and smacked into my rig. His employer snagged him and made his disappear before the law was called in. Employer got ticketed, but the driver was never caught.)

    One of my exes (Sadie, wife #5 of 7, Pam being #7–and, she assures me, my LAST wife:) and I, while living in San Diego in 1986, were in separate traffic accidents on the same afternoon at almost exactly the same time. I was on the 805 freeway and was rearended at highway speed by a 19 year old in a GMC truck. Sadie was driving down a street in town and a guy pulled away from the curb without looking, right into her passenger side door. Strangely enough, but also fortunately, both at-fault drivers were insured with the same major carrier, State Farm.

  33. It’s so funny that you would bring this up. I am plenty angry at this loser, but even angrier at the parade of judges who have let this guy off time and time again with just a slap on his wrists. Had he been in prison where he belonged… I truly believe in second chances, but enough is enough!

    And, had he been an illegal alien, my rage and fury would be boundless. I can’t even imagine what crime victims or their survivors must be going through. And now we have another 19,000 or so criminals on the loose, ready to prey on us…OK Fandango, do your magic!

    The simultaneous accidents of your then wife Sadie and you are simply eerie. I’m glad the other drivers where properly insured.

    On a happier note, I came across the photo you took of Gato and the praying mantis on the other side of your window screen. What an amazing portrait! My cat Trixie will be 19 years old on 5-1-2016 and is still going strong.

    Regarding Pam, I know that you have done and are doing everything you can.

    Warm regards to both of you, Ingrid

  34. Definitely, Pam and I both do everything possible. It’s not surprising she’s winding down at this point, though; it’s simply amazing that she’s made it this far. She’s come close to passing a bunch of times, but she’s still here.

    Yeah, I like that picture of Gato and the praying mantis, too. Except the one I remember best is one of Gato and a walking stick bug.

    You’re right; the simultaneous accidents (Sadie and me) did count as something out of the ordinary. But get this: It happened again, many years later. I was driving truck, long haul, turning right into the company terminal in Santa Fe Springs, California, when a less-than-bright female driver on her way to work decided to ignore the 53′ trailer’s blinking signal light in an attempt to pass me on the right at high speed, well above the speed limit. Her jaw literally dropped when she realized she was going to have to put two wheels on the sidewalk at 65 mph or T-bone my big red truck tractor blocking that lane. (There was a completely clear lane she could have taken on the left. No clue why she opted for the right.) She panicked, tried to jerk her brand new Montero SUV hard right into our terminal driveway. Didn’t work. Plowed across the driveway, smacked some small trees, pushed a belly into a tall chain link fence, hit a telephone pole on the other side, rebounded back through the air seven feet, and crashed her vehicle down on its right side. Airbag knocked her out, but amazingly, no serious bodily injury.

    At that same moment, give or take no more than half an hour, Pam–who was with me in the truck and witnessed the crazy driver’s wreck–did not know that her eldest daughter, Amy, was busy being rearended on a Portland, Oregon, freeway.

    The whole thing so traumatized Pam that it took me two and a half days to get her to finally eat, some soup I got from a truck stop in Washington state (had a load to take up that way). Had to spoon feed the girl, but she got it down. One more crisis averted. That was the last month she ever rode with me in the truck, though.

  35. Hi Fred, I am awed by the events of the last year. On 2-26-2016, you and I were elated that Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump, the first hint that the impossible might after all be a possible. That Trump managed to prevail — overcoming scorn, mudslinging, slander and libel– is unbelievable and awesome. His success restored my faith in my country and it lifted my spirits. And my concerns that I might prefer more of statesman than a swaggering pugilist were proven wrong. Trump was exactly was this country needed to overcome years of meekness and submission. Kudos to you to make me see the light.

    I read about Pam’s decline and I am so sorry. You did a wonderful thing building Border Fort for her to keep her safe , happy and protected from herself and others.
    Well nothing stays the same. Please let me know of your future plans. Warm regards, Ingrid


  36. Thanks for the kudos, Ingrid. And if President Trump’s first week is any indicator for the rest of his term, I’m going to be laughing all the way–at the media, because there’s no way his opposition can even keep up with the pace he’s setting. By the time they can “properly” complain about one issue, he’s already dealing with a dozen more, and they’re left in the dust, eyes crossed and heads a-spinning!

    I just got back from running Pam back up to Utah (and spending one day doing necessary projects to upgrade her apartment), but she’s informed me that she’s just not going to be able to make those long (970 miles one way) rides any more. They tear her body up too much. So the current plan is to start flying her down (with escort) every 2 months to see her doctor…as long as she can stand the flying.

    As long as she needs to be here at all (to see her doctor and rest up between plane rides), my plans are to “run in place,” just muddle through day by day as needed. After she does not need the Border Fort, either because she’s passed on or because she’s decided to give up on doctoring here, I’ll start working to get this place ready to sell–which may take a year or so to do it right. It’s not like I’ll be in any hurry (although Life may surprise me on that score, as it often has in the past), but eventually I’ll move back up to Montana. Got my eye on a dream parcel of land and ideas for a dream house to build on it, but don’t have the cash on hand to acquire the land yet.

    I do own a great place up there already, but it’s rented out to an outstanding renter I’d never evict (although if he found work out of the area and moved on his own, that would be fine). The gentleman is a single Dad raising 6 kids on his own; he deserves some consideration. And I know he absolutely loves the place.

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