This is a rather ridiculously belated blog post, but oh well. I ended up ordering another mantis, this time a ghost because I've heard so much about them on the forum and they had really started to grow on me. So I got this tiny little thing in the mail on Friday, May 3rd. (I'd forgotten how small they started out!) The nymph was pretty clearly a girl by the shape of her prothorax (like an arrowhead) and my sister named her Lenie, after another book character who's about as twisted mentally as this my little girl looks! She molted to L3 the following Wednesday (5/8) and just molted to L4 last Tuesday (5/21) with no problems. She'll eat pretty much whatever I give her (except for mealworms). Lenie is extremely fast and I can be a nervous wreck trying to hold her because she moves and jumps so quick!
Siri's new theme song has been Petty's "Learning to Fly": he scared the heck out of me last Monday (5/20) when we were calmly watching TV and Siri decided he wanted to test drive his new wings. So now he gets to come out only in the bathroom after I've Siri-proofed it. Last night he was doing a lot of flying, and when I asked on the forum, it appears he's looking for ladies. He's also dieting too, I guess, because he's been a lot more active and less inclined to wolf everything down. (He only eats his favorite part sometimes... the head.)
Can't remember if I posted about this or not (don't think so) but I got Siri a new home in a Kritter Keeper with Malaysian drift and faux plants. I really like the setu-up so I am planning one (albeit smaller) for Lenie too.
Siri's molted to adult about a week ago with no complications. (Well, one of his under wings is a little crumpled... don't know if this will prevent him from flying or not.) He's been very calm when I hold him: we haven't had any startled flights yet.
Last night, I got a break in homework and started modifying a Kritter Keeper for Siri's new home... I've got him in retooled Pub Mix bottle right now, with one side cut out and replaced with a screen for ventilation and hanging. It's a little tough to herd him out sometimes (mostly when he was a nymph; it's a bit easier now) so I got a Keeper and have started gluing window screen to the inside of the lid for better grip. Still debating about whether to glue it onto two sides as well, because it'll be a little less attractive that way. I've also decided for this new enclosure to not glue any plastic plants down: to instead just get weighted ones or vines with suction cups so that I can move things around...
With Siri making it to adulthood, I've been thinking more seriously about getting a couple more mantids. I was planning to go to a reptile expo down in Seattle this May, but that seems like it's falling through a bit. So I've been perusing online suppliers and ideally would like a ghost and a H. membranacea next... A ghost for its uniqueness (clearly one of the favorites on the forum, so there must be something to them! ) H. membranacea because I love the idea of a huge mantis! These are just thoughts at this point in time but I may act on them soon... Time will tell whether Siri acquires some (tasty looking) adopted siblings.
It's been awhile since I've gotten on the forum... Last quarter, classes were pretty overwhelming for me, and poor Siri didn't get handled very much at all. (Not that it appears to bother him, as he's not that inclined to come out of his cage. I'm changing his enclosure soon though so I can have easier access and it'll be less stressful for him.) After a series of molts every two weeks, he's been stalled at L6 for over a month and a week. He's moved from houseflies to bluebottles, which I find much easier to transfer and feed, as well as more resilient in the fridge. His wings are starting to develop and he's gotten pretty pudgy so I'm hoping for another molt soon!
I almost missed when my H. patellifera nymph came into the post office; tracking the package across the U.S., I saw it was supposed to arrive the morning that I drove from my family home back to my apartment (only a half hour away, but I don't have my own car anymore so if I had missed his arrival, I'd have to do some finagling to get him up to the apartment.) I went down to the post office and asked if any "live arrival" packages had come in; the woman at the front desk said no and I walked out dejected... Then I realized that maybe there was no "live arrival" sticker and went back in and asked again, giving them my name. I think the package had been somewhat misplaced, because another postal worker found it for me but the woman I talked to had missed it. Anyway, I got him home and was surprised to see how tiny he was! I was extremely scared to hold him or move him to his bigger container, certain he would jump off my hand the first chance he got and disappear...
Reading the care instructions, I realized I didn't have any distilled water on hand to give him. (I had heard about this before but had totally forgotten.) I thought about using tap, just this once, but after reading some of the cautions on here I'm so glad I didn't! I ended up boiling water on my stove and trying to collect the condensation on the lid. This took a surprising amount of time and water, since I spilled most of the distillate trying to get it into the spray bottle. Eventually, I had enough to mist the little guy (I counted 7-8 abdominal segments) before taking him on his last leg of journey.
Almost the moment I arrived at my apartment, I introduced the mantis to two of my roommates. They had known he was coming but were surprised by how cute a nymph can be, especially when he looked at you with his eyespots. I was nervously holding him as my roommates took pictures; at one point, though, one of my friends got a little to close with her camera phone and he made a flying leap at her! He either missed the phone or couldn't hold on and disappeared to the carpet below. I freaked out, trying to look everywhere without moving and accidentally squishing him. I was certain I had lost him, within only hours of his arrival. After what seemed like an eternity but was really more like 30 seconds, we spotted him clinging to the fabric of my roommate's leg (ironically, this was the roommate who hated spiders and wasn't a big fan of insects in general, although now she really likes my mantis). After that whole fiasco, I was nervous to hold him again but wanted to get him used to me so we'd never have to go through that again! It's safe to say that the acclimation paid off: it's now really easy to hold him, so much so that I can read, type, or watch TV with him resting on my arm or hand.
I ended up naming him Siri, after the protagonist from my favorite book: "Blindsight" by Peter Watts. It was sort of a joke, because the mantis came to me missing part of his left antenna and part of his left tarsus... and his fictional namesake lost half his brain from a radical hemispherectomy.
Siri is an L4 now, and he should be molting fairly soon here. (I hope he does it at night when I'm sleeping, like he did the first time, rather than the second time when I caught him halfway through and could barely watch, it was so nerve-wracking!) I am amazed at how much personality is contained in this little bug -or maybe how much I'm able to anthropomorphize him
After perusing blogs by other members, I thought it might be fun to have one of my own: even if it serves only to house my ramblings. But my hope is that I'll be able to record interesting/exciting mantis events as they come so that I may one day better remember them... Considering this is the first time I've done anything like this, we'll see how it goes.
My name is Jamie, and I am a full-time student close to completing my Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. Last year I lived in a dorm and now I live in a "no pets" apartment complex. But I've always had a fascination with nature (hence the degree and my future plans to become a wildlife ecologist) and I was lucky enough to grow up with a variety of pets. Living without anything to take care of was difficult for me, so I started keeping a variety of houseplants -mostly orchids- much to the dismay of my roommates, considering the lack of space we had/have. I love my plants, but at 22 scattered about the apartment, I realized enough was enough. But I was still missing something, so I began to devise ways of getting around the "no pets" rule... Technically, we were allowed to have fish, but as a former obsessive-compulsive goldfish addict who would spend 8 hours minimum every weekend changing my four goldies' 75 gallons of water, fish were out of the equation. I spent an entire quarter searching for an adequate small pet that would only bend the rules of the apartment. Hermit crabs? No, they lived for up to 20 years and needed heavy humidity daily or would die... Aquatic snails? I'd have to worry about all sorts of water parameters then, just like I would for fish. Same problem with fire-belly newts...
I don't remember how I stumbled onto mantids... I think I got the idea in my head because two years ago, a local nursery was selling mantids. I was doing an insect collection at the time for a biology class -answering the age-old question of whether I'd kill for grades with a resounding "yes"- and some of my fellow classmates had talked about getting a mantis from the nursery (which I now realize would have been impossible, considering they were in all likelihood selling ooths). The idea of buying an animal just to pin it for a science class seemed wrong to me... I was struggling enough with hunting insects in the wild. So I never looked into it but that idea must have stayed with me, because soon I found myself looking for information and mantis suppliers. I found both, and was amazed at the wide variety of mantids available.
I spent the end of winter break puzzling over what mantis to get... I've never had so much fun making lists in my entire life! Lots of price and species comparisons that eventually ended when I settled on getting Hierodula patellifera. I wanted to start with a "big green," as recommended on this site. This species seemed easy to care for in its description and best of all, was described as an aggressive feeder that was docile to handle. So I sent away for one L2 nymph at the very beginning of January, despite my reservations about the cold. During the few days it took for my mantis to arrive, it was hard to stop thinking about him. Was he calm in the dark as he was shipped over so many state lines? Was he cold? Would my package get lost? Never before had I gotten a live animal in the mail, and was so nervous about it, although I needn't have worried: he was well packed and arrived safe and sound the very morning that I was scheduled to drive back to my apartment from my family home...
More on his arrival and the Distilled Water Fiasco (which isn't nearly as exciting as I make it sound) later... It's Friday night: the remainders of my homework for the day are calling...