Nature reminds us that it is wild after all

Warning, there’s a bloody, gross, but freakishly fascinating photo at the end.

Generally, my interactions with nature involve words like “cute,” “lovely,” “look, they’re friends,” along with squeals of excitement while I anthropomorphize the shit of whatever creature is in front of me. I root for nature. Yes, nature you need to do your thing and survive! As long as that thing is adorable and could be in a scene with Disney princesses.

Typically, both MomBert and I cheer on praying mantises. Finding one of their nests is a celebratory event. Praying mantises eat the garden pests. They are strange looking, strong, cold hearted (there’s that anthropomorphizing) predators who usually earn their keep.

However like raccoons that don’t want hugs, and groundhogs who haven’t suffered from a lack of petting, praying mantises are mate-eating, wild beasties.

Among the soft and squishy beasties are caterpillars. MomBert has had great success with attracting monarch caterpillars this year in her yard and in the BF’s meadow that he agreed not to mow. Meanwhile my milkweed is not bringing all the boys to the yard. I’m guessing that geography and environment are factors, but I’m jealous nonetheless.IMG_7092

They even consider her house a hip place to build a chrysalis and transform!

She checks on her army daily and worries about their well-being which led to a series of upsetting text messages this week. She’d sent an update of the current five nom-nomming away happily-see above– but then discovered that sixth caterpillar had become a juicy snack for the beast at the watering hole.


At least it got to keep its snack.

While this was disappointing, it was expected and understandable. She transported the clearly pregnant praying mantis to the backyard where she’s been trying to relocate them so they are away from the caterpillar population.

We expect bug on bug violence, but her next discovery was out of left field and horrifying to all of us. She found a praying mantis eating a decapitated hummingbird! WTF, Nature!


*******Side Note: 1. Texting just needs to let us swear. Auto-correct should know by now that when I or anyone else types “fuck,” that that is exactly what we mean. I suppose the “ducker” is just protecting me from myself.  2. She insists on referring to hummingbirds as “hummers” and I’m not going to be the one to explain it. That’s my sister’s job.

This was the horrible bloody reminder that nature has got to do its groove thang. It was upsetting. I mean, there was that time that I found a chipmunk guiltily standing over a brainless, dead mouse. Yes, the top of the skull had been removed and the brain was gone. Zombie chipmunk? But that just registered as weird.


A bloody, decapitated, actively being devoured hummingbird though plucked at heartstrings and seemed unfair. Maybe because they are tiny, but so packed with energy and purpose. They’re drawn to the bright and beautiful flowers, so by association are part of that beauty.

Additionally, the logistics seemed impossible. How could a bug catch a bird? Of course, I googled it and immediately found videos of praying mantises catching hummingbirds. I can’t even post the link here, it was that upsetting. The praying mantis flings those long serrated arms out, grabs the bird by the throat as it hovers, appearing to strangle it or trying to cut the head off. The worst was watching the little, shiny jewel of bird twist and struggle. I only watched one video, that was enough to understand.

So “circle of life,” nature is beautiful but purposefully predatory and provides me with so many interesting experiences.

If you continue scrolling, you will see a praying mantis eating a hummingbird.


6 thoughts on “Nature reminds us that it is wild after all

  1. Well told post and very true, although I too am really freaked out by these facts of the natural world. Brains are high in taurine. Cats require a lot of taurine, that’s why they will sometimes consume only the head of a mouse and leave the rest. I don’t know about chipmunk nutritional needs, though.

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