The first time I ever saw a praying mantis was in Crete, Greece. That was long before I moved to Umbria in Italy where we see them regularly.
The Admirable Praying Mantis
My First Ever Sighting
The first time I ever saw a praying mantis was in Greece. My Mum and I took a girly week’s holiday in Paleochora on the South West of Crete. What a great holiday that was, we speak of it often. Here are few memories of that trip.
Open Air Cinema
When we were there, Paleochora had an open air cinema. There was something magical about sitting watching the screen as shooting stars went overhead. Bats flew in front of the screen, obviously after the flying insects attracted to the light.
But the biggest giggle of all was one night when we were watching a film and there was the unmistakable smell of cat poop (take it from one who knows). Looking under my seat there were two tiny kittens digging in the gravel to do their toilet! It could only happen to me!
We took a day trip to Elafonis, an idyllic island with pink sand. We had to wade through the sea to get to it. I taught Mum to snorkel. What a great day out that was, a memory for all time.
Greek Orthodox Church
On another day we took a walk through the countryside to an old Greek Orthodox church. I can’t remember the name of the church now, I am afraid. It was a very hot day I remember and the church was so cool inside. As we went to go in the church a ginger kitten attached itself to my ankle and then followed us inside. As Mum said, I attract cats like flies!
Back to praying mantis! On the way back from the church, and having said goodbye to the kitten, we paused and lent on a fence to catch our breath and drink some water. And that is when we saw the praying mantis. We had never seen one before and we were quite spooked by it – they do look a bit fierce!
Praying Mantis and Stick Insects
Here in Umbria, we regularly see praying mantis and stick insects. I read somewhere that people often mix the two up but I think if you have seen a praying mantis and really studied it you wouldn’t confuse them.
My Stevie Mouse Christmas video even included a praying mantis – with a santa hat on of course.
Most Recent Sighting
Our most recent sighting of a praying mantis, was when Barnet Boy moved a log outside our front door. We were confronted by a praying mantis in full defensive mode as we had disturbed it. I hasten to add we didn’t know it was there or we wouldn’t have moved the log! We had a wonderful opportunity to observe this mantis, including its wings which you don’t see very often as they are tucked away. This one was about six inches long which is about as big as they get.
This one hissed at me as I took the photograph, another first for me. They are unlikely to bite apparently but can you give you cuts like paper cuts if you pick on up as their front legs have spines. Note to self, avoid picking one up.
Facts About Praying Mantis
Those front legs with spines are efficient at catching pray of course. Mantis can turn their heads 180 degrees (reminds me of the film The Exorcist). They are known for the female often eating the male during or after mating (altogether eugh!). Mantis are closely related to cockroaches and termites. They only have one ear situated on its underside. Does it surprise me to find they don’t hear very well?
They do have excellent vision, so when I have felt that the mantis were staring right at me and watching my every move they actually were.
Where To Purchase My Image ‘Posing Praying Mantis’
From my RedBubble store where the image is available on various great products.
From my Pictorem portfolio, where it is also available as this great high gloss jigsaw puzzle print (USA and Canada only).
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!