Another Uninvited Guest

My house does a pretty good job of keeping outside critters outside.

Mice have chewed away the edges of the rubber strips along the garage doors and gained access there, but thankfully they’ve never managed to make it from the garage into the house.

Stink bugs somehow find access points through my home’s foundation. Of all the bugs that invite themselves into my home, stink bugs are the most unwelcome. After learning the hard way my first year living here to not step on them, pick them up in a tissue, or vacuum them – all those methods of removal lead to them emitting a defensive fog of odor that can take hours, even days, to dissipate – I came up with the glass + paper method of removal. The glass captures the gas they emit when in defense mode, startled by being captured, until I can take them outside and fling them over the fence and into the field grass.

I find occasional spiders (same post as the one about stink bugs). I let them be, unless they try to sleep with me in my bed. Flies sneak in when a door opens, as do (less frequently) bees. They drive me and the boys crazy with their buzzing, trying to get out, flying against the windows, especially at night. Plus, I’m allergic to bee stings, so I try to capture and remove flying insects using my tried-and-true glass + paper method.

Once, in 2015, a tree frog came to visit. Multiple times over several weeks. I never figured out how she found her way inside my house. That was fun, if bizarre. I haven’t seen a tree frog since.

Most recently, a praying mantis flew into me while I was reading on the deck.

Now I can add a praying mantis to the list of uninvited guests inside the house.

Housekeeping is not my thing. I especially hate vacuuming. Between vacuums, small clumps of shed dog hair drift across my concrete floors. Or sometimes I find bits of sticks or plant material the boys’ coats picked up on a run or walk and they’ve pulled out and spit onto the floor after getting home. I’ll pick these bits up as I walk by them, buying myself another day or two before I have to vacuum.

So imagine my surprise when a couple days ago, bending down to pick up what I thought was grass clippings mixed with dog hair in the hallway – a reasonable assumption since I’d mowed the day before – it moved when I touched it!

No, I’m not blind.

I wear corrective lenses when driving or running, but not in the house. And the hallway was in shadow. That’s my excuse.

dog feet, praying mantis
Praying mantis on alert. Finn remained calm and, frankly, bored. (Please ignore my dirty walls and floors; I live with two active, dirty, fluffy dogs and have better things to do than keep an immaculate house, e.g. play with a praying mantis!)

The mantis – I’ll refer to it as she from here on out – decided to try to remove herself from the scene. She tried climbing the wall in the hall, but didn’t get far before falling back to the floor.

Conall is also bored with our visitor.

I decided to help her get safely back outside using the glass + paper method.

praying mantis in a glass
Captured. The look on her face says she’s not happy about it.

I gently carried her outside. Rather than fling her into the air as I’ve done with stink bugs and grasshoppers – that seemed rude in her case – I set her on my deck table with the glass on its side so she could escape at her own pace.

praying mantis in glass
Wrong way!

Unfortunately, she positioned herself toward the bottom of the glass and kept using her forelegs to try to find a way out.

glass, mantis, dog
At the same time, Conall was woofing at workers in a neighbor’s field (Conall woofs at anything unusual, which I appreciate). His woofs didn’t bother the praying mantis, who kept trying to exit the glass bottom.

I realized she could use some help.

I also saw that she had some Conall fluff – wispy strands of undercoat – stuck to her legs. “Welcome to my world, girlfriend,” I said. “You’re always covered with dog hair here!” It was fascinating watching her groom herself, removing – and eating – the dog hair from her legs.

We can all use a little help. (In the case of this video, autofocus was not helping at times; sorry.)

After watching her try to remove all the dog hair for several minutes, I decided to help her out with the worst of it.

Autofocus went for the background, but you get the idea of what happened.

Success! Free – or mostly so – of dog hair.

And that was her cue to express her feelings about the entire episode. Or maybe she finally reached her breaking point with being photographed and videoed up close in less-than-ideal conditions. Whatever, I felt like I was filming a cheap horror flick!

“Enough with the camera!”

Poor girl landed between the concrete apron from the house and the deck, right where oodles of dog hair collects.

She dusted herself off and headed for the house, mostly free of dog hair. She climbed all the way up the sliding door screen (easy climbing surface). At the top, she started climbing on the siding toward the eave (much more difficult, a 5.10 at least). She fell off, back to the concrete apron.

Watching in dismay, I sent her every mental energy message I could to fly away, go find a mate in the field grass and make good use of the last days of her short lifespan. (After mating in the fall, praying mantids do not survive winter, although their eggs do.) I assured her there are no potential love matches hiding in my house.

Maybe she listened because, after briefly going inside, when I came back out, she was gone.

23 thoughts on “Another Uninvited Guest”

  1. Love the mantids. Total badasses. No fear; no surrender. We were talking abut these guys/gals on Max’s blog a while back and one poster (from Scotland) commented that when he was in the RAF he and his mates would catch a mantis and attach it with thread to a leg of their cots in barracks to cut down on the population of other insects such as cockroaches. Oh, little known trivia: if a mantis flys it is most often a male. Females usually cannot fly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perfect description: total badasses!

      Interesting story about the RAF guys using them as pest control in their barracks. That would be fascinating to watch, a mantis catching and eating a cockroach.

      I didn’t know that the females couldn’t fly, despite having wings. How unfair is that? My indoor visitor most likely was a female, then, so at least I got the pronouns correct. And now I know that the mantis that flew into me while I sat on my deck several days ago was male (and a piss-poor flier). Thanks for that non-trivial trivia!

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  2. That is a big praying mantis. They kind of scare me. Well done on scooping it out. I do not know what I would have done. And maybe it was just waiting for you to leave before it came out. Anyway, I am just glad it was not inside your home anymore. These unwelcome guests, honestly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Their appearance is a little creepy, for sure; takes some getting used to! When it ran at me, crouched behind my phone, my heart rate spiked!

      Lucky for the mantis that visited me that no cats live here. I imagine your cat would keep your home free of such visitors 🙂

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      1. It ran to you? Yikes. Glad it is out there now. I do not know what the cats would do, honestly. Sometimes it seems like they are simply uninterested with everything. That, or they are asleep all the time, except feeding time.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed finding one in my house as well, I watched mine for a whole zoom and then forgot about her until the next morning when I found her positioned above the front door. I helped her back outside but would be happy for another visit! Stink bugs used to be such a problem for us as well. Last year, the spotted lantern fly came to town and took over our area. They are invasive and I believe these things are going to spread. They are really awful. On the plus, stink bugs aren’t really an issue anymore. On the minus, these bugs are EVERYWHERE.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are fun to watch! Wouldn’t want them inside too often, or in big numbers, though; imagine accidentally stepping on one!

      I had to look up spotted lanternfly. Yikes. You have my sympathy! Hope they don’t spread beyond where they’ve already invaded, they sound obnoxious! Makes the occasional stink bug seem much less a problem.

      On this side of the country there’s the worrisome “murder hornets” recently found in parts of Washington state, aka giant Asian hornet, another invasive insect with big agricultural implications because they prey on bees, which of course pollinate crops.

      I wonder if mantids could take care of the lanterfly or giant hornet by eating them?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Whoa!! That’s the stuff of nightmares and horror flicks! But…makes one think mantids could be a possible solution should those hornets make inroads here. Maybe we just make enough of the hornets watch that video; that should scare them away….

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