Mantis on my Mind
Today the southwest Ohio heat storm broke a bit. Able to walk through the yard without becoming wringing wet (at any time of the day) for the first time in days, it was a cool but humid morning. Offered time to get a few tasks done before the uptick in both heat and humidity.
First task is to take the devil dogs for their morning jog. It was a good run. Since bringing a fully charged water pistol to the task, I am seeing a little less attitude when meeting other canines in the ‘hood. Today was a good dog day from another aspect as Joy did her first mock pull. She has been wearing a pull harness on our daily walks for over a week, with the ultimate goal of pulling a dog cart. She has gotten so used to it if I am not quick enough to suit up for our walk, she is nudging the harness and giving me meaningful looks. “Hurry up Mom”. So today, I built a mock pull jig that could be clipped to her harness. Fancy words for a piece of pine with eye screws. We walked the block and she did GREAT!
Time now to address yard and garden issues. I don’t water much. New plantings and transplants, yes, but when the beds are starting to dry up and crack, time to water. Time to set sprinklers and timers, and hope for a cooling down. Just get the shrubs and perennials through to dormancy.
On my first walk through the western terrace, I started to see them. MANTIS! Without much effort on my part, I counted 8 good sized mantids in about a 6 foot square area. Ranging in size from 2.5 inches to easily 4. Two four inchers hanging almost nose to nose within 6 inches of each other. I waited to see the action, but with usual mantis timing, hardly a twitch. And I must say these two were certainly not interested in me. Sex or lunch? Don’t know but when I checked back about 30 minutes later, both had gone missing. Hmmmmm. The others, still in roughly the same attitudes as I had last seen them, some dressed in the radiant emerald green of a fresh molt and others the standard camouflage of golden amber and green.
My next coup of the day was to break out the mantis cam kit I bought on the internet. Since I am still trying to diagnose why my good camera has thrown up its hands (thus no standard pictures, sorry!), this was a good opportunity to try the new technology. (www.mantisonmymind.com)
Included in the kit is a mantis vise, which allows you to gently restrain the animal in question, while the micro chip and the cam are affixed. It’s just snug enough that a small range in body sizes can be accommodated. You may have a bit of a struggle at first, but once you have handled the first one or two you kinda get the hang of it.
Once in the vise, you must work quickly. You do not want to stress out the mantid especially as it will take some time for the glue to dry after affixing the chip and the cam. The glue is a special concoction developed by NASA for use with aliens, so is very gentle and nontoxic.
Glue the cam first. It’s a bit heavier than the chip so will need a little extra curing time. I placed mine right behind the neck joint so a literal mantis eye view can be obtained. Then I placed the chip right behind it. I sped up the gluing process by gently squeezing the tube of glue to create a bubble at the applicator point and allowing it to set just a bit before placing on the device and placing on the mantid. I was able to glue up and release four mantids in about a half an hour.
The theory is that in going through the next molt cycle, both devices will be sloughed off, but are completely biodegradable.
I found the mantis cam software was easily installed on my mac mini and getting the various devices identified and cued up took very little time at all. These were very thoughtful software developers to say the least. And what wonderful pictures started rolling in, in addition to being able to track movements through my garden beds via the chips. AMAZING!!!!!!
Oh, how wonderful if I could just…….. Okay, everything was true down to the mantis cam kit. No mantids (real or imagined or any other creatures) were harmed in the ripping of this yarn. Just a little flight of fancy on my part.
PS – Since posting have gotten the camera back on line ……. (Yes Virginia, these are ALL DIFFERENT!)