So I wake up this morning to a crime scene in my bedroom. My eyelids flutter open, I swivel my head, yawn a few times, and I’m greeted by an unholy spectacle— limbs strewn across the floor, legs torn from a body and stacked almost-neatly in a psychopathic pile, the remains of a half-eaten raptorial limb flung against the wall, wings ripped ferociously from an insect body…

Darwin ate Borus. In one of nature’s most unsettling and famous displays of savagery, Darwin the female Ghost mantis killed and consumed most of Uroborus the male Ghost mantis.

Hanging guiltily from a twig directly above the carcass, Darwin gave me a shit-eating grin. “Darwin, you ate your husband! You bad, bad mantis!” In my customary anthropomorphic style, I spent the next half-hour cleaning and admonishing her. “You know, if you were a human, you’d be locked up! People would hear about you in the news: Pregnant suburban housewife kills and consumes husband during coitus.” Hide your kids, hide your (husband). What is the world coming to.

To be frank, I don’t even know if Darwin and Borus mated. For all I know, Borus tried to make a move, and instead of politely rejecting him, Darwin decided she was hungry. I hope he was tenacious in his approach, because otherwise it does appear that he died in vain, without achieving fertilization (for which purpose he was bought!) However, Borus was a beautiful specimen, a excellent companion, and, in the end, a most satisfying snack.

Here is a photographic tribute to Borus, from birth to untimely death.

Welcoming [name]!

NEW MANTIS. It is always exciting to adopt a new mantis- mantids of different species have different personalities, so getting a new mantis is like meeting a new character your life, in a way. However, [name] is a male of the same specie as Darwin, who is a female Ghost Mantis (phyllocrania paradoxa).

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Some of you might be thinking, “hmm, you have a male, and a female, and they’re the same specie…” — don’t get ahead of yourselves. [Name] is not yet an adult mantis- he is still a nymph, and likely has several more molts to go before he is mature. However, once they’re both adult and have been well fed, I may strategically remove the wire barrier that keeps them separate.

Praying mantids are interestingly analogous to humans in form and function. First, praying mantids are the only specie of insect that can turn its head with distinction- most mantids can turn their heads a full 180˚. This initial similarity gives the mantis the impression of having some cognitive ability, as it will often follow your finger or appear to “decide” whether to climb on your finger, stare at you, or turn around.

Second, praying mantis species have personalities (though even using the word personality implies its intention as a human descriptor). I say mantis species because each individual mantis within each specie will generally respond to stimuli in rather identical patterns, and exhibit little or no relative “personality.” However, each praying mantis specie is adapted to live in a different natural environment, and each environment would cater to a different set of behavioral tendancies. For instance, a mantis in the rainforest may achieve the best success by blending in, or mimiking a flower or leaf, because other insects are bountiful and relatively common. However, a mantis suited for a more temperate or deciduous environment where food is widely dispersed might be more aggressive and apt to actively hunt. These behavioral tendencies would certainly be interpreted by us ever-interpretive humans as “personality,” although a more appropriate word might be temperament or average disposition.

I am excited to meet this new mantis and compare his behavior with that of Darwin. Will “gender” exist? Are there distinctly male and female behavioral tendencies and patterns?

Right- also, he needs a name. Ideas, anyone?