Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Moment with a Praying Mantis

Creating content for children appeals to me primarily because children have a sense of wonder that many lose as adults. Children's imagination engine is firing on all cylinders. It doesn't hurt that my mental age is 5 years old. There is a natural affinity.

Many of our formative experiences as children frame our lives.  So as a creator, it's fun to imagine producing content that makes that kind of impression. It's even more fun to have those experiences that engage the awe and wonder of childhood.

Praying Mantis        Public Domain

Working in my yard yesterday I came upon a large praying mantis. I find them very beautiful, intriguing creatures. I always want to pick them up. The last one I found a few months ago bit my finger so hard when I picked it up, I tossed it down immediately. Yesterday I was feeling brave, I had on my leather work gloves. 

When I could gently get her in my hand, she walked from one hand to another as I put them on top of each other, like climbing a ladder. It is fascinating to watch all those appendages moving in concert. Periodically she would lick the barbs on the bottom of her front legs. I wondered if she was picking up dirt from my leather gloves that contained something she wanted.

I communicated to her that I meant no harm, as one does speaking telepathically to other life forms. (I know I'm not the only one.) After a few minutes she turned around and just looked at me. The way their heads swivel is fascinating to watch.

In my mind she was a female, but I didn't count the segments of her abdomen. Researching later I learned gender is determined by the number of segments in the abdomen.

It is a treasure to find those experiences that capture you in the moment and let you savor a simple act.

Praying Mantis cocoon

I remember finding praying mantises as a child, but the following experience made a big impression on me. When we were growing up, my little brothers found a praying mantis cocoon and put it in a jar in their bedroom. They failed to put a top on the jar....and yes, soon enough there here hundred of tiny praying mantises flying about in their bedroom. Now there's a childhood memory for you.

Praying mantises are on my list of organisms to document with an animated life cycle. The short life cycle documentary animations I have completed include: Monarch butterfly, 17-year cicada, shelf fungus, lichen, oak tree, jellyfish. All are available on the Anim8Nature website and our Vimeo channel.

Animating Nature & Science

I see a world where the transformative power of art and the creative problem solving of science blossom together. This is possible when we encourage our children to explore science with art and allow them time to imagine and create. Anim8Nature is dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship by exploring science with art and encouraging careful observation of the natural world.

Learn more about Anim8Nature.com on this blog and our website. I have assembled a team of experts to create media, lesson plans and workshops to help students and families explore science with art. We want to spark curiosity and get kids outside as environmental stewards. Join us. Support Anim8Nature on Patreon.

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