I had a visitor on the screen of the porch today –
I’ve had a lot of experience with praying mantises, but this was a new one. After I took some pictures, I did some research and determined it was a female (immature nymph) Carolina Mantis.
She was very pretty- with great camouflage, but not very cooperative while posing for pictures. She was very interested in the hummingbirds at the feeder nearby – although I think she needs to grow a bit more before she could attempt that capture.
She was about 3 inches long – with wings that only reach about 3/4 of the way down her abdomen. This, and her coloration, were the biggest differences between the green praying mantises I’ve seen before. I learned that the Carolina Mantis can change it’s coloration to match it’s environment with each molt. How cool is that?
Glad she stopped by and I was able to get to know about her a little bit.
I caught a rainbow forming across the lake during an afternoon shower the other day. It made me think of my daughter Addison – who’s favorite weather is ‘when it’s raining AND the sun is shining’.
And it also brought to mind the words of Harry Chapin — “there are so many colors in a flower… so many colors in the morning sun … so many colors in a rainbow… and I see every one.” Don’t forget to see them – even when it’s raining.
When I got my new camera a few months ago, I was IN LOVE!!! And then – I fiddled. I pushed buttons, turned dials, poked and prodded my way to mediocre shots as my main result. I am not a fan of “online instruction manuals” — why can’t they send you an actual book, like, made out of paper? — so I had made the MAJOR mistake of going WAY overboard. And, I didn’t have a clue how to fix it. So, I reset it. And my flash works again.
And this spotted orb weaver on my front porch was the perfect subject.
He’s a regular on the porch- and we try to stay out of each other’s way. He crawls up under the eaves every day, and builds a new web every evening. Their webs are incredibly sticky all the way to the edges!
UPDATE : Unfortunately for Mr Huge Hairy Spider – he was still there this morning. He has become fish bait, and I am going boating!
We had a pretty nice storm here last night – lightning, thunder, rain – all within ‘acceptable’ levels. I made some popcorn on the stove, drowned it in real butter and sat on the screen porch enjoying nature’s show. Consequently, this morning I had several inches of water in the boat. I finished my second cup of coffee and headed down to drain it out. For some reason, I neglected to grab a “spider web stick” and ended up with a face full of web as soon as I stepped off the deck. LITERALLY. I had webbing stuck to my eyelashes! So, boating mission aborted as I returned to clean up my face and to remove any clothing that web and /or spider may have been clinging to.
Spent several hours working on my latest home renovation and at “break time” I decided to go and take a boat ride. Remembered the web stick – forgot that the neighbor occasionally “stops by” to chat. Boating mission – aborted.
Just a little while ago, I decided that it was the perfect time for a boat ride – I gathered a few adult beverages, my camera and seat cushions, a light snack… and headed to the dock. Remembered the web stick – which served me well on the walk down. Loaded me and the supplies into the boat and leaned over to untie the front line – thought there was some dead leaves on the rope – went to brush them off and they MOVED.
I ended up slightly wet – on my keister in the bottom of the boat. I drank one adult beverage – very quickly – while I waited for my heart rate to return to acceptable levels. I took a few pictures – since the camera was hanging around my neck. Realized that the web stick was no match for an actual MONSTER SPIDER. Boating mission – aborted.
On Sunday (9/11/2016) I took my coffee out to the screen porch like I do every morning, and noticed a white ‘smear’ on the screen. At first I thought it was bird poop- but when I looked closer, I realized that something had decided to use my screen as an egg depository.
The spot was only about an inch long, and it was really hard to see for sure that they were individual eggs, but I snapped a picture and figured I would check on it each morning.
Yesterday, (9/15/16) when I checked in the morning, everything looked about the same – except the smear was a little darker. So, imagine my surprise when I took a painting break in the late afternoon, looked at the smear, and saw squiggling!
There were literally HUNDREDS of new little critters emerging from their eggs! The smallest inchworms I have ever seen in my life were starting out on their life journey right before my eyes!
(The blurry picture is my index finger for size reference – these were challenging shots – LOL)
As I tried to get some decent pictures, I watched these new babies demonstrate the ultimate life lesson of natural selection – “survival of the fittest”. I saw some of them falling out of the screen to the ground 15 feet below – some falling to the framework of the screen inside, and crawling toward the outside world. Some grabbed their nearest sibling and started eating – some dangled by nearly invisible strands of silk – some wandered aimlessly along the screen. They were like newborn human babies – with heads too big for their tiny bodies and flailing legs – startled by close sensory stimuli, and curling up into a protective ‘fetal’ position in response.
A few hours later, there was nothing, and nobody left.
At the same time that I was watching this, I was experiencing it firsthand in my own life, as my son Drake navigated his own way out into the world. Back in Illinois – while his Dad was fishing with buddies in Canada, and his Mom was living in Arkansas – Drake was packing his Blazer to move to Missouri. He’ll be moving into his first apartment, in a new state today – and his Mama isn’t there. He’ll be signing his first lease and utility contracts…starting a new position at work on Monday… navigating a new city and traveling new roads… and his Mama isn’t there. He’ll be stocking a pantry and refrigerator (probably with frozen pizzas and beer)…. setting up furniture…. preparing for his girlfriend’s arrival in a few weeks…and his Mama isn’t there.
It’s a different kind of leaving than when I deposited him at college – it feels so much more “permanent” – and I have spent the past few days riding an emotional roller coaster as the inevitable bumps in the road have sprung up, and the reminiscing road has been traveled.
Drake was the last of my babies born – “Baby D Schwaller” – the biggest of the quads at a whopping 3 pounds 5 ounces, but he was the first to come home, the only one to ever have the opportunity to have been the”only” baby for a few days of his life. And now, he’s the first to ‘really’ leave. . . and his Mama wasn’t there. All I can do from here is hope that he remembers the “survival of the fittest” life lessons – like the microscopic inchworms (who only have instinct…their Mama was NEVER there) venturing out from my screen.
“Eat” to survive -and so you won’t be eaten. Get back up when you fall. Keep moving forward – even if you have to crawl. “Life lines”- whether they are silken strands or lines of communication – are essential. Everyone is fighting for survival. There isn’t always safety in numbers – sometimes it’s better to be the first or the last or the most unique. Your family “pack” will always have your back, as long as you haven’t ‘eaten’ them. Enjoy the journey – sometimes the destination isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Change is hard, but necessary. Life is scary- full of predators and pitfalls, but also amazing – especially when you have grown your wings.
Congratulations on your wings Drake – I know that they are strong, and wide, and will carry you as far and as high as you choose. Even though I wasn’t ‘there’ — I’m ALWAYS ‘here’, and always, always RYMLY.