Praying Mantis Style
When I was a little boy, I was fascinated by the insectt known as the praying mantis. With its svelte, machine-like body and its mean looking fore-limbs it fully captured my imagination and I became mildly obsessed with its habits. One of my fondest memories is searching for these elusive creatures with my father in our backyard and in the adjacent woods. Armed with a Mason jar full of grass and small twigs, we trawled the landscape until we found one – and then two! I studied them intently and I was quick to sketch them in my dogeared journal before releasing them the next day. My father still has that drawing. Looking at these insects today, I cannot help but be even more enamored of their inherent style and design. Mother nature knew exactly what she was doing when she created these finely-tuned hunters. They are visually stunning.
There are over 2,400 species of mantises in the world, found in both temperate and tropical climates. North American varieties are usually green and grow between half-an-inch to three-inches in length but tropical species can be several inches long and wildly colorful. The insects were so named because of the prayer-like pose of its folded fore-limbs, which are muscular and spiked to firmly grasp its prey. They can fly, but only for short distances and prefer to linger under leaves and brush to camouflage themselves from birds and larger predators. If you find a praying mantis, consider yourself lucky. They are not only extremely shy but extremely beautiful. What fashion designer or engineer on earth would fail to recognize how inspiring and extraordinary they are?