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.


Is Not Kitty

After being gone for a few days, I had to do a sweep of the perimeter and assess the garden. Somebody broke my super, fancy, thrift store, glass bowl birdbath in half, but otherwise things seemed fine.

I was in the middle of the yard, hands full of replacement birdbath, when I heard someone rustling through the flowerbed by the fence. My Brain was, of course, like “Kitty?”

But is not kitty.


I put everything down in order to take a picture of the skunk 10 feet away because I’m that asshole. The skunk waddled on under the fence, and I chose to wrap up my backyard activities.

By the time I got back in the house, Is Not Kitty had returned with a friend!


They dug around underneath the bird feeders and then got drinks! I decided that I could sneak back out to the corner of the garage to get these shots with my camera rather than my phone.



The next morning around 9 am, they were under the living room windows cleaning up that bird feeder. We were up to three! Three Is Not Kitties who would not pose together or relocate to a point where I did not have to shoot through the window screen.


My camera bumped the glass. Scary sound!

From this vantage they looked kitten sized, like Kitten Room kitten sized so maybe 3 or more pounds. Even though everyone on Facebook and the receiving end of my text messages were disturbed by the repeated visits, I felt that as long as they were cleaning up excess bird seed then the ants would not take up residence so profusely; and if grubs were for dessert, so be it!

Plus how could I ignore the adorableness? Two of the three decided to have a wrestling match in the hostas…again at a horrible angle for my camera. Just like with the cats, there were flailing limbs, exposed tummies, and shouts of “Mooommmmmmm! Stop it!


All this action was worth putting the game camera out for a few days. Success!


Ear Flowers


I like back lighting flowers; they’re often translucent and it adds to the colors. It’s much easier with my phone’s camera because I can select portions of the screen where the light is coming through which gives me the sunbeams and coronas that I think are cool but probably really equal bad photography.
IMG_E3913Turns out the same theory works on cat ears.