The way this person brought up a praying mantis is so sweet that it might just make you rethink your dislike of insects. But be forewarned, the end of their tale will break your heart a little.
The photos come courtesy of Imgur user “brownham,” who shared the photos of the praying mantis that he had raised from a tiny baby bug to a fully reproductive adult. Brownham named the insect “Bug.”
The pair were together for about half a year. In that time, brownham claimed that Bug was a wonderful pet, and that he was surprisingly mellow.
Maybe that’s because Bug started out really tiny; seriously, really tiny. Nonetheless, brownham kept Bug in a terrarium, and he also took the mantis on outdoor field trips and let her hang out on houseplants.
And when brownham started taking care of little Bug, he’d buy her fruit flies from the pet store to eat. It goes without saying, of course, that praying mantises are somewhat picking eaters – they like their food alive and crawling or fluttering.
But when Bug grew bigger, brownham caught flies and moths at night for Bug to eat. He kept these critters in smaller terrariums next to Bug in order to always have a meal ready for her when she got hungry.
Browham saw all of Bug’s defining life moments, such as her very first molt. Like a worried parent, he obsessed over a bend that appeared in Bug’s body, and he was relieved when she was in good shape again after her next molt. Her first wing bolts sent him into a titter. “She had wing buds after this molt, I was so excited!” he wrote on Imgur.
Indeed, the way brownham captures moments of Bug is similar to how other pet owners share adorable moments of their companions on Instagram. For instance, he captioned one close-up photo of Bug, “Cutie Patootie.”
The praying mantis can be quite a special pet, according to Brownham. “Bug was an awesome pet. She was super tame and would hang with me or stay on a house plant and not run/fly away.”
The praying mantis is indeed a unique insect, though somewhat misunderstood. Originally found in Europe, Africa, and Asia, Mantis religiosa made a niche for itself in North America as an invasive species more than 100 years ago. Connecticut now has it as the official state bug.
Growing up to three inches long, though, these distinctive insects are typically found in warm tropical or subtropical areas. Plus, they usually hang out in vegetation where they are camouflaged from birds and other predators.
Mantises, meanwhile, usually eat other bugs, like moths, crickets, flies, and grasshoppers. However, their reputation for gender-based cannibalism is part of what makes these creatures so fascinating.
For example, the female mantis, like Bug, is often viewed as a vicious lover. The common belief is that a female praying mantis will munch the head off of her male mate after copulating.
But eating the head of your lover is not a normal mating tendency, even for a mantis. There are 15 families of mantis, 430 genera, and about 2,300 different species or sub-species. When it comes to sexual cannibalism, then, it really varies depending on the mantis, whether the environment is a laboratory setting or in the wild, if the mantis sees the scientist making the observations, and, most importantly, if the female is hungry or not.
However, generally speaking, the Australian mantis, Pseudomantis albofimbriata, is considered one of the most sexually dangerous. In the wild, a female of this species will eat the head of the male during mating attempts an estimated 46 percent of time.
But Bug didn’t have to worry about life’s hardships. Indeed, she lived a life of luxury, with brownham keeping her fed and well protected.
And if you think Bug’s photos are adorable, you’ll be happy to hear that raising a mantis is actually quite manageable. You’ll need an enclosure like brownham’s, though, and the bigger the better.
The tank will also need things like sticks, rocks and branches for your bug buddy to climb. Again, mantises only eat live insects, and they are voracious eaters.
And, be prepared for your friendship with your insect partner to be a short one. In fact, after spending just six months with Bug, brownham had to say good bye to her. “She eventually laid an egg sack and then died about a week later. As is tradition,” Brownham wrote.
While their time was short together, we can’t help but admire the brief friendship between brownham and Bug. The Imgur post even swayed other users who had previously been bug haters. Because seriously, how can you not love that cutie patootie’s face?