Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Big Game Hunter

     Headed from the house to the garage the other day, I glanced over at the garlic chives.  They grow in a raised bed in front of the garage.  I have let that garden bed go wild the past several years.  The garlic chives are my source of tasty onion flowers and most of them are in bloom.

     The flowers are attractive to local bees,* most of which are the great big, fuzzy native bumblebees, the size of your thumb. A few of them were browsing.  One of the chives had a weird extra stalk, jutting down a short way at an angle from under the flower.  I stepped closer and saw the head and cocked forelegs: a small to medium praying mantis, perfectly color-matched and as still as a stick.  I waved a finger past and it turned its head to track my movement, decided I wasn't worth bothering about and resumed its motionless pose.

     I think it was hunting for a bumblebee.  In terms of relative size, the big bees weren't quite as large compared to the mantis as a rhinoceros would be to a person; more along the lines of a bison or Cape buffalo.  On the other hand, the mantis is only armed with its rapid-fire, spiny arms and powerful jaws.

     I wished it luck and went on my way.  That's one ambitious insect.
* If I was seeing more honeybees, I might feel impelled to apologize to the amateur apiarist a couple blocks over.  But there are never more than one or two at most and there plenty of sweet flowers much closer to the hive.  I wonder if anyone's making an onion-honey barbecue glaze?

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