A real, live mantis — on my frying pan

This praying mantis was pretending to be a stick insect while hanging out on my frying pan.

As you can guess by the subject line, I found a mantis on my frying pan. Fortunately, I noticed it BEFORE I poured on the oil. (I’m not a big fan of fried insect). It was pretending to be a stick insect pretending to be a stick. How freaking cool is that? Only when I looked closely at the stick could I see it was a stick insect. And then only when I prodded the insect did it turn into a mantis. (Click the photo for a close-up).

On another note: have you ever wondered if the birds are spying on you? Because the weaver birds in my backyard actually do spy on me if I don’t feed them as soon as I get up. They perch on the grills outside my living room windows and stare inside. Not creepy at all… Fortunately, Miss Knight is learning to communicate with birds to use them as spies for the good guys (book 3 — almost finished the draft now).

I promised to share some of the stories that you guys shared with me. So here’s a sample of other people’s animal tails… er, tales.

My husband, Nigel, and I live in Belize. Belize has many species of snakes. Of all of them, the fer-de-lance is a certain death. There is no anti-venom here, and that’s where the tale comes in!

My guest, Gary, came flying out of the guesthouse and into the main house at about 6am and tells me there is snake in a box in his bathroom. A ruckus woke him around 3am, and he followed the cat into the bathroom where all appeared quiet. So, out we went to the bathroom, me with a towel in hand, him with shaking hands, and he pointed out the box.

All was quiet. I gingerly lifted the lid….

“Oh”, I said, “it’s not very big, and it’s sleeping”. Since it looked like our common rat snake, I carefully, (and quietly) reached in, grabbed it by the neck, and proudly carried it indoors to show the hubby.

His first comment: “Holy Sh*t, Jen, that’s a fer-de-lance!”

So I turned the little fellow to me, and sure enough, there was that wedge-shaped nose and a perfect pattern. At first glance, they look like the local rattlesnake, but when this snake opened his mouth to hiss at me, there was no doubt who those 1inch fangs belonged to!

A wild bobcat chased my seventy-year-old, 110 pound Dad around a parked car, until my fleet-of-foot Dad hopped on top of the car roof. The bobcat eventually decided that Dad was more trouble than he was worth. Tired of waiting for his snack, the bobcat wandered away.

I was a telephone man for over 30 years in Northwest Indiana (loved the winters). Whenever a customer informed me that their “dog didn’t bite”, I showed them a five buckle rubber boot with teeth marks from “another dog that won’t bite!”

I live in an isolated place in the Ozark Mountains in the United States. I’ve had many run-ins with opossums coming onto the porch looking for food. They frequently eat my chicken food if there is any out.

Now, one of them has become very intelligent. One evening when I was about to let my dogs out, an opossum was sitting in front of the screen door. I pushed and he didn’t move. Not really wanting to injure him by shoving the door open and reluctant to turn the dogs on him, I pushed a piece of bread through the crack I had made in the door, hoping he’d take it and leave.

It worked; he waddled away with his prize. But it was a big mistake. Ever since, he is at the door every evening waiting for his piece of bread! I gave up and named the little bandit. Petie the ‘Possum is now just one of the gang!

Have an animal-friendly day!


Vered “Mantis Tamer” Ehsani

21 Comments on “A real, live mantis — on my frying pan

  1. I was late for work one day and rapidly drove up my driveway running over what I thought was long stick. It felt funny so I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw i had just run over a 5 ft long black racer (nonvenomous here is TN). I ran and changed into my scrubs and drove back down, I stopped before I came to the snake because I didn’t want to get snake guts on my car (besides I felt bad I ran him over.) I could see tire imprint on his skin. I got a stick and tried to push him off my driveway. The snake was understandably annoyed and can after me and my puny little stick. The only escape was to jump on the hood of my car. That blacksnake struck at my car for a good 10 min ( while I set there yelling) before he slithered off into the pasture. No one at work believed my excuse. I still can’t believe the snake tried to bite my car.

  2. I grew up just outside of town, on a dirt road. When I was around 12 or 13 years old, my friend Monica and I were walking down to her house, about 3 doors down (roughly equivalent to one city block). About halfway there, in the middle of the road was a large, coiled snake. Monica screamed and ran into the ditch. I decided to scare her by walking up to the snake and giving it a good kick. It looked pale, almost white, on top, with darker markings underneath. In response to my kick, the snake shuddered and completely flipped over, while remaining coiled. It was then that I realized it had been laying upside-down before – the pale part was it’s underside, and the darker markings on top were the typical brown markings of a rattlesnake. Based on it’s size, I think it was actually a king snake, but I will NEVER try that again, and I DO NOT recommend anyone else try it! Luckily for me, the snake was dead…but I did give Monica a good scare! 🙂

  3. More than a few years ago, when there had been some timbering going on down the street, I glanced out of the glass patio doors and noticed the autumn leaves tumbling in the wind. In fact, I had a couple of copulating copperheads, romantically twining up and down each other’s bodies. My sister (married to a herpetologist) later said, “Wow, you are so fortunate to witness that in the wild!” I said, “Kath. You are so weird.”

    I called the county Animal Control to come and get them and had a disagreement with the gentleman who answered the phone. He wanted to know where my husband was so that he could take care of them. He said the snakes would likely be gone before he could get there. He said, “Oh, the wood pile,” as if that was the deal-breaker. He came up with one reason after another that Animal Control was not the outfit to handle this. I told him to get his sorry butt down here. Right. This. Instant.

    Armed with a long-handled push broom, I parked myself on the other side of the glass from the woodpile, never taking my eyes off the couple, who contentedly continued canoodling. I figured that if they decided to decamp, I maybe could push them back to the woodpile and buy a little more time for help to appear. I did NOT want a pair of venomous snakes breeding in the same yard where my children refused to wear shoes.

    Actually, I didn’t have long to wait. About ten minutes later, a big white truck pulled up and two big cheerful guys wearing tall boots got out with a bucket, some sticks with rope loops, a hatchet, and I can’t remember what else, I was just so happy to see them. They told me, “Yeah, that other guy? He don’t do snakes. He likes the cat calls.” While I stood waaay back, they pulled the little bit of wood away from the love nest. The copperheads were not having it. Big, and hissy, and bitey, until each got looped around the neck and their heads chopped off, which surprised me, because I thought Animal Control would probably catch them to release elsewhere.

    They took the heads with them, but left the bodies and the bucket at my request because I wanted the kids to see WHY I wanted them to wear shoes outside. My son, who got home before the girls, gleefully arranged the carcasses so his big sisters would be scared. Didn’t work. They had to have stepped over the two, quite large, deceased snakes, and I couldn’t understand how they could have been missed. I made the girls come outside to take a look, but the hair rose up on my neck and arms because I could not find them. For much longer than was comfortable, I will tell you true. Copperheads are impressively camouflaged in dead leaves, I knew that. What I didn’t realize is that you can’t see them on a stone patio, either. Until, all of a sudden, you can.

    So that’s one of my snake stories. (The other ones probably account for why I don’t have more copperhead stories.) I have two or three pretty good spider stories, too, and a couple about some possum, but some other time, y’all.

    And also, have you ever heard yearling male white tail deer bleat for their mamas? It sounds like Muppet Martians and is creepy as hell until you know what it is and why, and then you just want to cry with them. So. So. Sad.

  4. We’d been playing cards after I had been scuba diving, in order to wind down when my wife turned over her pillow and discovered a scorpion.
    Needless to say, we didn’t much sleep that night.
    We later surmised that I had brought the varmint in on my wetsuit.

  5. Any time you find a mantis, keep it around, they eat a lot of insects and if you have a garden, they are great to have in the garden. as they will eat the pest.

  6. I am never EVER going to Belize!!! Why? Because I have herpetophobia, fear of reptiles and/or amphibians.! I don’t care if was a harmless snake in my bathroom, I would be out of there in a flash and having a heart or major panic attack! Other than that, I love your stories and I’m glad you did NOT show a picture of the snake!

  7. These stories are great and I’m assuming that you scooted the Mantis out of the pan. We used to get them on our screen door when I lived in a different climate, the stick look is the ultimate in defensive camouflage!

    Wish we could share pics here even though the ones I have left aren’t that masterful anyway. Maybe 6 years ago, we had three Great Horned Owl fledglings hanging out in our yard and the wild area (more of a natural ravine with huge oaks that that had never been touched) of our yard for months while they grew up completely. I was so glued to kicking back and watching them all day that my boyfriend started referring it to my Owl TV.

    Every time, as soon as the sun came up I would figure out where they were on the property and set my chair about ten feet or so away and watch them. I learned so much about their species and owls in general then and while I never tried to actually tame them, I couldn’t help setting out bowls of water and other tidbits to see if they were interested. While I never got to the point where I touched them, they got used enough to me that I could stand under their chosen tree for the day and take more closeup pictures. It was awesome and I felt like such a kid again with a tighter connection to nature.

    P.S. I know they make cricket flour that I’ve been thinking of trying for kicks, I suppose Mantis aren’t plentiful enough to do the same.

    I probably don’t have to say this, will anyway, enjoy the nature around you. It reminds you to hold onto the wonder you had as a child and is priceless, even if it can be a pain in the butt.

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