August 31, 2005

Cannibal crickets

Did you know that crickets eat each other? Yeah, I didn't know that either until last night when my husband walked through the door last night carrying a small cardboard box with airholes punched all through it. So of course I see the box and know that he's brought some kind of creature home. He tells out daughter to take a look and she opens the box to find a praying mantis inside. My husband has somehow managed never to have seen a praying mantis in real life, so when he saw at work, he immediately caught and boxed it so he could bring it home and "study" it. He set up one of the extra critter tanks and put the mantis inside and then went out to round up some grub for the little alien. He caught a couple of crickets and threw them into the tank to watch the unbridled carnage of the praying mantis consuming its meal. He and my daughter sat and watched and nothing happened. So we went on with our normal evening activities. My daughter spent some time introducing her snake to the praying mantis, but no feasting on the part of the mantis. Anyway, shortly before my daughter's bedtime, I look in the tank and only see one cricket, so I'm thinking, "Ah, nuts, they missed the praying mantis eat a cricket." Then I look a little closer and I notice the one cricket seems to be undulating in a weird way and I look even closer and realize he's eating what's left of the other cricket's bottom half. And he was chowing down on it. I don't know what crickets eat, but I really didn't think it was other crickets. I don't know what really happened. I don't know if the mantis ate part of the cricket and the other cricket was finishing up the scraps. I don't know. But that cricket worked pretty steadily eating away at the other one. This morning I woke up and the remaining cricket was still alive, so the mantis didn't get him during the night, but all that's left of the dead cricket is just a little butt nub.

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