On a Wing and a Prayer

Passengers walking out on the tarmac at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport had to pass this guy – the largest praying mantis I’ve ever encountered. There are a lot of unknowns: I don’t know if he was praying for the passenger walking by or he (she?) was planning on flying out later.

Filing a flight plan

I also don’t know if he (she?) was filing a flight plan with the tower or a Higher Authority.

Cool factoids about the Praying Mantis:

  • It has been called the perfect predator because of its ability to rotate its head 180 degrees, its eyesight and its quick reflexes.
  • Insects form the primary diet, but larger species have been known to prey on small scorpions, lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, fish, and even rodents; they will prey upon any species small enough to successfully capture and devour.
  • When flying at night, at least some mantises are able to detect the echolocation sounds produced by bats, and when the frequency begins to increase rapidly, indicating an approaching bat, they will stop flying horizontally and begin a descending spiral toward the safety of the ground, often preceded by an aerial loop or spin.
  • Depending on which study you read, the females will or will not bite the head off the male during or shortly after mating. A lot depends on whether or not she’s hungry and how quickly the male disappears. One report says, “this behavior seems not to deter males from reproduction.” Do we find THAT surprising?
  • Tens of thousands of egg cases are sold each year to organic gardeners who use the Mantis as a biological pest control.

Moonlight Ramble madness

Crazy Brother Mark convinced me to sign up for a 13-mile Moonlight Ramble bike ride in St. Louis Saturday night. I can handle the 13 miles. I rode a little over 20 this afternoon after almost two months out of the saddle to see if it’s true that you never forget how. The part of my body that sits needs some toughening up, I found.

The problem is that we’ll be heading out at about 1 in the morning to ride the 13 miles, along with about 10,000 other crazy people. I’m used to riding at night and I’m used to being up doing this blog at 2 in the morning. Putting riding and 2 a.m. and 10,000 in the same sentence is the unusual part. I see several naps in my future.

If you don’t see anything posted Sunday morning, that’s why.

UPDATE

Right after I wrote that Friday night, the Internet service provider at the location in Florida that hosts my blogs and email crashed, keeping me from posting this for you to read Saturday morning. That’s why you’re getting this on Sunday. Let’s see how the Moonlight Ramble goes. You might get an update from it, but don’t count on it until later.

Update to the Update

OK, I didn’t make it up to the Moonlight Ramble. My woes with ground transportation are almost as bad as my experiences in the air. Brother Mark is shooting some photos of the ride. I’ll fill you in when his pictures arrive. For now, though, here’s your Saturday morning story on Sunday morning. If you have to penalize me a letter grade for turning it in late, I guess you’ll have to do what you have to do.

3 Replies to “On a Wing and a Prayer”

  1. I have seen pictures of a mantis that captured a hummingbird. Fast mantis, slow hummer. Not sure, but it was pretty odd to see.

  2. Ken, that surely is the largest Praying Mantis I (Mary) have ever seen!
    We did the Moonlight Ramble years ago and had a great time; it is an easy route. We even got up and went to church the next morning.
    Thanks for your daily photos and the interesting history that we weren’t sometimes aware of. (Well that is ending a sentence with a preposition but it sounds too weird to do it “correctly”.)

  3. Ending a sentence with a preposition is not something I would be guilty of. Who would I attribute my writing skills to? Surely not the English teacher I had so much confidence in. I would hate to think that I would embarrass myself in front of Ken and his readers, the ones I am writing this for. I’ve always considered writing one of the skills I was best at.

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