Monday, June 17, 2013

How I took a praying mantis to McDonalds (nature is an arsehole but humans are worse)

Nawwwwww such a cutie! But keep away from my fries, OK?
Last week I took a praying mantis to McDonalds. It was a female False Garden Mantid and I took her there by mistake, but it’s not the first time I’ve taken insects to random places. 

I remember having one of those plastic bug catcher toys as a child, a book on Australian insects and an insatiable curiosity.

Oh and a magnifying glass. Sorry, ants. I was an arsehole.

The praying mantis was a personal fave.

My long-suffering mother would ask, “You haven’t brought any creatures home today in your school bag, have you?”

“No mum.”

At that moment there was a more than 70% chance that in my bedroom was a 15 centimetre-long brown mantis swaying gracefully, tilting its weird triangular head from side to side, wondering how the fuck it had ended up on the bed of a small child in the suburbs of our nation’s capital.

There were also the countless tadpoles and frogs. Butterflies. Grasshoppers. Spiders. Snails.

All judiciously caught and brought into the house to be “looked after”. More often than not this served as a euphemism for being stared at for an hour, forgotten and allowed to run riot around the house.

Do you know how small a newly hatched praying mantis is? I do. The little nest I’d lovingly installed in my bug catcher broke open, spewing tiny, perfectly-formed mantis babies out through its holes, along the mantel piece to dubious freedom. We were finding miniscule mantis kids all over the lounge room for weeks.

“Watch out mum, there’s a mantis on your chair!”

(Deep sigh). “Of course there is.”

There I was last week, some 37-or-so years later, pulling out of the McDonalds drive-thru. I looked up and found my gaze unexpectedly caught in the steely triangular glare of two beady little green eyes.

Look at her ickle face! LOOK AT IT!
What the fuck?

Yes, there she was, a little green mantis, sitting on my car bonnet LOOKING STRAIGHT AT ME. Like the next wave in hood ornaments for the uber-environmentally-friendly motorist.

Except her look was anything but happy.

Her look said “How could you leave me on that basil plant? How can you expect me to survive on a diet of grasshoppers and aphids AND WHERE ARE MY FRIES, BITCH!?”

I was temporarily stumped. What to do?

If I drove off and she was blown away not only would she smash into the windscreen, breaking her exoskeleton and my heart, but she would also never get her fries.

So I did what any person in my situation would do.

I slowed down to 30 kilometres an hour, turned my hazard lights on, and inched home slowly in the left lane so that my praying mantis wouldn’t get blown away.*

I then took photos of her and tweeted about our little jaunt, before lovingly popping her back onto her basil plant. And not once did she bite me, despite me not sharing my fries with her because I love nature and all but come on, there are limits.

As a child, what I liked about creatures was that if you piss one off they’ll run away, bite or sting you. Nothing much has changed.

Nature is an arsehole, but at least it’s honest about it.

Unlike humans.

What a couple of fucked-up weeks we’ve had. Politics here has reduced itself to tales of men in threateningly blue ties, threats that an LNP government will interfere with our collective uterus, questions about the PM’s partner’s sexuality, and accusations that the leader of our country has breasts.

How very dare they.

Humans really are arseholes.

I’m always rescuing creatures that could bite or sting me and releasing them while those around me are screeching “Kill it! Kill it!”

They may have a point, but frankly I find humans far more vicious. So I’m off to find a small animal to take on a trip to the post box.

* Yes I know they have wings and she could have flown away SHUT UP.
My son found the photo and created a Minecraft/Praying Mantis mashup.
You're welcome.

 Have you ever taken part of nature somewhere random by accident?


  1. well there is the spider and it's offspring who live in the right hand wing mirror of the volvo. It or it's offspring have been too Canberra, Skenes Ck, Malmesbury etc, etc.

  2. Shudder. Nope. I don't go out of my way to kill bugs, except cockroaches (double shudder) and an occasional spider, but this would not even have registered on my pity scale. I loathe ALL insects. Or arachnids, or whatever the hell they are. Mantises are horrible, horrible things. Not as bad as spiders, but pretty bad. She'd have been going for a bit of sky dive if it was my car, I'm afraid.

  3. I run from nature screaming and carrying on like a girl! I'm not good with things that crawl or spiders. I'll leave nature where it belongs, nowhere near me ;-)

    1. You need a friend like me to come rescue them from you ;-)

  4. I would have sped up so it would blow off coz that's just the kind of gal I am!

    1. Oh you big meanie LOL I should report you to the RSPCPM!

  5. Just watched an ep of Buffy - as you do - an early ep, 2 or 3 in, where they were attacked by a Giant Praying Mantis. I discovered that their heads can swivel right around and that they are cannibals. I repeat my earlier shudder and raise you a yuck.

    1. Well a giant ANYTHING is pretty horrid ;-)

    2. True, dat. Still not giving a hitching Mantis a lift though :D

  6. Replies
    1. You know, I'm not sure Lisa. I suspect all it could do is that weird side-to-side wobble and you know, nobody wants to see that on the dancefloor ;-) x