This week-end, at a renaissance faire (pictures from that will come another day) I was sitting on a dusty slope covered with dry bunch grass to wait for the jousting to begin. Someone said-- a praying mantis is on your back. I have to admit, I was pleased. Really? It chose me? Wow. Let it stay there because with all these people around, it might be stepped on if it is brushed off. I handed over my camera and asked for a photo. It was in no hurry to leave.
Then they said-- it's crawling up your back and going to get in your hair. At that point I became concerned as if it got tangled in my hair, that could have caused it to lose a feeler or leg getting it out; so I asked the man to my right if he could safely remove it and put it on a small tree almost in front of us. He did so; and as it climbed up the tree, I took another picture, then lost track of it.
I believe the events in our life are like our dreams. We can dismiss them, see them as insignificant, or when something a bit unusual happens, become interested in learning more about the potential symbol.
Biologically, I knew they are a gardener's friend. Although they are named praying mantis for their front leg position, it is actually a deadly weapon. Their benefit to the gardener is their hunting ability. Aphids beware.
I had no idea they can also kill hummingbirds. When I did some research on them, I saw a photograph online, for which I am sure anyone interested can find, that showed a praying mantis with a hummingbird it had killed, and then devoured. It was a small hummingbird, but still who would have guessed that more than small insects should be wary around them.
Generally they are green when I have seen them, but they take on the color of their background which is why on this dusty slope, this one (not sure how you tell male from female but guessing it might be female) was the color in these photos. They live about a year. I did know that the female will sometimes kill the male after mating by knocking his head off before she devours him. Not always. Sometimes he's quick enough to get out of her way.
Researching the spiritual symbols, I learned in ancient Egypt it would have been greatly honored. The Greeks attributed to it supernatural powers. To some it has been seen as the guide into the underworld. It had been inspirational in creating some of the Eastern exercises to increase chi (energy). In Africa, a praying mantis is thought to bring good luck to whomever it lands on and even restore life to the dead. The Bushmen of Africa believe the praying mantis is a divine messenger and whenever one is seen, diviners try to determine the current message.
What message did I take for myself from its choosing my back over all the others around? I felt pleased that maybe it knew I would protect it-- which I did as best I could. If it had a spiritual message for me, I will be looking.
Fascinating insects. Also if anyone knows if they will eat lady bugs, who are also garden predators, please comment with the answer.