Monday, August 31, 2009

Unorthodox Pets

Pets come in all forms, shapes and sizes -- animate and otherwise. Some selections may be considered unorthodox by other people, but that doesn't deter me from considering unusual possibilities.

Praying Mantids and Lady Bugs have long fascinated me as have Walking Sticks, too. I planned to write about my experience with the mantid and the lady bugs earlier this year. Events did not develop quite as I expected so I could share pictures of matured creatures. Here's what happened.

This past spring when I entered a local hardware/garden store where I was confronted with a display selling containers of young lady bugs and praying mantids eggs. These two insects are natural predators who devour certain unwanted destructive bugs preying on any vegetables, flowers and other garden plants. I decided to splurge, unable to resist purchasing one container each of these insects.

I intended to put the praying mantids egg-like container into a fishbowl per one recommended option so I could observe their gradual emergence once they developed to hatching stage. The more I thought about them, I even considered keeping a couple as pets since the instructions suggested that might be a possibility if I kept them fed -- ground meat was mentioned.

Unlike other pets I've had, they wouldn't have to be walked with the ever present plastic bag I'd have to tote so I could stoop over to pickup a stinky mess to carry along until disposing it later at home. Likewise there would be no need for rug clean-up after an inevitable sickness or potty accident. There would be no toiletry litter box inside the house threatening unwanted aromas if not replaced periodically. No messy hairballs, or urinary tract infections causing uncontrolled sense of urgency resulting in neutered male felines unintentionally spraying the guest room bed pillow. I certainly wouldn't be subjected either to those manipulative behaviors of eye gazes, cunning growls, or hypnotic purrs often emanating from some pets to which I often succumb much too easily. These prospective pets I was considering would be quiet, making not a sound.

There would be no fish bowl requiring water to be changed or containing new little ones to be protected from being eaten by their mother. I reasoned that I could always turn my pet praying mantids loose in a tree if unknown forces caused them to acquire unmanageably large proportions or they became vicious. They could fend for themselves and I wouldn't be reported to the Humane Society for cruelty, abuse or for abandoning my pet. I bet they wouldn't bother to come back home, either.

Time lapsed before I enacted my plan. Before I was ready I noted these young mantids were already escaping the brown paper-thin-like egg in which they had been placed to hatch. I could see quite a few of the tiny mantids were still inside the now broken egg-like structure so I hastily initiated the next step. I carried the brown egg container out to a flowering tree-like shrub in my back yard. I carefully placed the brown eggs in crooks of the branches as instructed, then emptied the remaining small mantids onto limbs where they presumably would find smaller insects to eat that compose their carnivorous diet.

The lady bugs, full grown when I purchased them, were placed in similarly recommended potential feeding sites on a few patio potted dwarf fruit trees. I managed to get a couple pictures at the time I released both of these insect varieties but my photo offerings are limited as everything was happening so rapidly.

Subsequently through the days, weeks and months my anticipated sightings of matured mantids have not materialized for photographing. I know there was increased bird activity in the backyard after I released my baby insects so those winged predators may have feasted on some of my new small creatures. I should have stayed out there with them for a while instead of coming inside for my camera. The lady bugs who avoided being eaten may have eventually flown away. I choose to believe some of each of these insects have survived though I've been unable to sight any.

I think I'll try again next year seeding these insects in my outdoor growth if they're available for purchase at my store. Furthermore, I may just prepare for habitation a large fish bowl left over from our households years earlier pet creature activities. I'm through mourning the loss of my compost, worm juice producing wiggly farm some years ago. I may decide to have pets again.


  1. Because I wrote about praying mantises before, I get probably one searcher coming in every couple of days at the least from praying mantis searches. I thought it was the martial arts of the East reasoning but maybe not. I also look for them in the garden but don't see them but I haven't raised any either. I do have many lady bugs but in the house, not that I see out there. Every year, they come in here for wintering over. We used to have a shake roof and thousands would go through the cracks. Unfortunately, due to fire danger, we had to replace it with a different kind of roof but we still have a lot of lady bugs here every year. Then in the spring, I start putting them out the doors and windows.

  2. Quite often when you purchase lady bugs they go to a neighbor's garden. They don't seem to realize that you have provided a good home for them.

    I think your 'take' on the down side of having a pet is one everybody should think about before buying, or rescuing, that cute puppy or kitten. I would add one thing to that; the vet bills that can run into the thousands.

    I miss my dog and would love to have another for company, but I don't miss the occasional accident that you mentioned or the expenses incurred.

  3. Rain: "Martial arts of the East reasoning..." -- I love it!

    Guess I won't have to purchase lady bugs next spring. I'll just get a gunny sack and fill it up at your house. Expect you're glad to not have them in the house so much.

    Darlene: I put a sign in the pots that said, "This is your home now," so what was their problem???

    You're surely correct about the expense pets can be. I think with our cat there were times we spent more on him than we had to for our two children. Then, if I want to go away..... I don't welcome people who travel with their pets, so wouldn't be doing that. I have loved the companionship, give and take of pet affection, having had a cat and several dogs through the years.

  4. I hear you about pets, having just spent over $200.00 on yearly checkups and shots for one dog and one cat. And then there is the expense of boarding them in a kennel. After losing two pets while they were in the care of others, we always board them. I really think, much as I love them, pets are getting to be a luxury item for us.
    Now, you would love our backyard. We have chameleons (two species), fruit flies, shrieking coqui frogs (nighttime only), cane toads, slugs, cockroaches, silverfish, little black flies, centipedes, crab spiders, yellow spiders, ants of several species, mosquitoes, carpenter bees, honey bees, bumble bees, geckoes, and yes, the occasional mantis.

  5. Hattie: I've heard the Hawaiian Big Island coqui frogs, thank you! I would like pet geckoes, maybe chameleons, but you can keep the rest right there in your backyard.

  6. That was fast! And you were such a good mom too! I suspect it was a combination of bird prey and just flyng off to greener pastures. Kids don't appreciate how good they have it at home...hence I remain petless at this point in my life. Plus...they can cost an arm and a leg...and I'm in great need of all of mine right now.

  7. Back in the day, I used to get Ladybugs at the Nursery necause they really do keep certain insect populations down....And they are so very pretty, too. I must remind my Gardener to replenish our supply...! Thanks for the reminder.

  8. I love both those bugs. One of my favorite photos is of a small praying mantis I found by accident in my ivy.