The praying mantis

In my many years living in nursing homes, I have seen many critters, mostly insects, spiders, and an occasional woolly worm. The biggest one was a wolf spider, until a week or so ago when a praying mantis was discovered in the corner above the other closet.

At first, the night shift nurse did not know what it was. She thought it was a katydid, or a grasshopper. I think they were just afraid to tell me it was a praying mantis. I know a praying mantis will not hurt me, but they are large when seen indoors.

The night shift aide tried to kill it with my flyswatter. But since she could not find its body, we thought it might have gotten away. I have only ever observed a praying mantis on the outside of the house I grew up in. It was large—about 4 inches—and I watched fascinated as it clung to the side of our house.

I really hated to see the aides have to kill such a majestic insect that eats aphids that damage roses and other plants. I really hoped someone could capture it and free it outdoors.

Later that day when the aides came in to put me in bed the praying mantis was back—in almost the exact same spot. This time an afternoon shift aide jumped on a chair and hit it with my flyswatter for the second time. When she could not find it dead, I thought it had escaped.

That night when I was getting ready to go to sleep, the praying mantis was again back in the same spot. All I could think was this was one determined praying mantis. We had tried to kill it twice and had not succeeded.

I asked my aide if we could try to spare its life. I asked her to grab a small plastic bin and use the flyswatter to knock the mantis in it and cover it with something so she could take it outside and let it loose. But, as soon as she nudged it with a flyswatter and it fell into the bin, it started to buzz, kick, flail around, and generally make an awful ruckus.

Then, my aide said she did not have the code to open the front door to free it. So, she opted to get rid of it in the toilet. I told her with that mantis’s comeback power to make sure it went down the toilet’s drain, and she did.

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