Critters entertain on long days

A female praying mantis “goes on a date” with three males. Praying mantises have a short life cycle. Males are killed by the females after intercourse and females usually die after giving birth.

Some of my readers have said they missed my column the last two weeks and most of them were missing information about my critters.

Well, I’ve been sick for three weeks, and if it hadn’t been for the hummingbirds, I think I would have gone nuts.

The trees are full of hummingbirds this year and they are quite active. They will fight over the feeders, come up to the door and sit on the railing and watch us, and they seem to especially like a new feeder which is pretty colored glass and just has a single spout for drinking. There is no platform to stand on like the other feeders, and they just stay in mid-air with their wings fluttering so fast you can’t see them as they drink until they’re full of the sugar water.

But when I finally came to work Tuesday, I felt terrible as did Faye Cornelius.

Thank goodness I didn’t witness anything like she did.

Faye lives in the Crofton area and she called me and said, “What I just saw was horrible.”

She was shaking and seemed to be crying as she told me about a praying mantis which she’d just seen catch and eat one of her hummingbirds.

“It ate the entire body out of the hummingbird,” she said. “My advice to people with hummingbirds is if you see a praying mantis, just scare it away.”

I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been as kind as I’m sure I would have killed that big bug.

Faye wasn’t the only one who had a story about a praying mantis.

Co-worker Ed Drennan has 7-year-old twin daughters, Addison and Blair, who are fascinated with bugs.

For several weeks, they kept a large green female mantis in an insect cage. When caring for it became a burden, Ed convinced the girls to let it go back into the wild.

We learned from him that the bright green ones are females. When Ed and the girls came back, the mantis was still there in the yard entertaining several male buddies.

When the girls asked their daddy what they were doing, he found an easy answer by telling them, “She has a date.”

We also learned that after the female breeds she eats the males!

We have only one recent casualty and that was a hummingbird that flew into the glass just after friend Jena had cleaned it. Several others have bumped into the glass but kept on flying.

Early Wednesday morning, I heard a boom as loud as a gunshot.

I was amazed when I looked outside and there were two big birds that hit the glass at once at high speed and both were killed.

There hasn’t been much more drama these last few weeks as we no longer have the cats, but turkeys and deer were seen often a week or so ago when a field behind neighbor Carol’s house was dozed out to make way for crops.

That took a part of the deer and turkey habitat, and they just moved on down and hung around our yard for a few days and the crowd included the doe with the twins and another doe with one fawn.

The youngsters have lost their spots and are pretty big deer now.

One early morning, we did have some drama when we saw a cat hiding beind a tree root and I could see only part of the head and two ears and all of a sudden it ran to the next tree catching a young squirrel for breakfast.

As the cat held the wiggling squirrel, I ran out of the house, and it dropped the squirrel and ran.

It was a strange-looking cat and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a cross between a wildcat and a regular cat. It ran so fast, looked so wild and it had a short tail and was a bit larger than a regular cat.

We were happy one morning early when the first chipmunk was seen at our house in two years.

Chipmunks left when we had those feral cats, and we had missed the little fellows.

Mary D. Ferguson is a staff writer and columnist for the Kentucky New Era. Her column runs every Saturday. She can be reached by telephone at 270-887-3230.

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