Praying Mantis vs Spider – Round 1

The sight of a young praying mantis and a small jumping spider squaring off on the bathroom window the other morning set me to wondering what they say to each other at such a time.

By the looks of them they were about the equivalent age of 10 year-old human kids – the age at which girls are “yuk” and boys “smell” (probably because of the half decomposed snails and wetas that find their way into pockets). It’s the age of childish taunts from our past such as, “Catholic dogs, look like frogs…” as the creatures begin to embrace the concept of tribalism.

Anyway, the praying mantis and the jumping spider were staring at each other probably musing to themselves, “Now what did Mum tell me to do when one of these things happens by?” They probably hadn’t been run through the list of “what’s good to eat in the big wide world” and the chance meeting on the way to school became an exercise in tribalism.

“Nya, nya, lanky legs,” said the spider. “Make sure you don’t blow over in the wind.”

“What about you – have you got a license to drive all those legs, shorty? Make sure you don’t trip over your own feets, goony-bug.” responded the mantis.

They were probably quite pleased with their initial exchange, and getting ready to wave fists at each other, cast aspersions on each other’s school and perhaps lob the odd pebble when the dumb human intervened by opening the window.

“I’ll be right back …” said Jumpy the spider as he executed a semicircle scoot past his foe, nicely pirouetting to face his adversary as he did so. “Come back, chicken legs. You’ve got eight so you must be four times chickener than a real chicken!” (The mantis is proud of his maths, and top of his class.)

The spider shot out the window with Manty in hot pursuit. “Cheat! cheat! You should have a handicap start for trying to outrun me by two legs!” And they were gone.

But not for long. The young spider was back for a victory lap about 10 minutes later, promenading back and forth along the edge of the window frame, puffing his chest out. “Ha! That sorted that dumb green critter. Boy, if I’d caught him, there would’ve been fireworks.”

By this time, Manty was at his desk in the classroom, flicking through his text book for the section on fractions so that he could work out what sort of handicap start should apply to eight legs over six. “Typical. Those kids from Legly Street School are always cheating. Just wait till Prayton Place School play them at cricket. We’ll mash ’em.”

Meanwhile, Jumpy was bunking school and starting to look a bit furtive in case one of the teachers came looking for him and found him still doing victory laps on the window. The first 10 minutes of defiance are cool, but then doubt sets in when all your mates have tucked their legs into their seats in class. There was art this morning – learning to finger-paint is fun when you’ve got eight limbs to practise with. And what will I do until 3 o’clock when school’s out? Crikey.

Sigh. The annual invasion continues. Jumping spiders of lime and chocolate flavour seem to be signing up to the Army of Invasion in equal numbers this year, giving their kids plenty of time to run riot and go exploring (and bunk school). As soon as one is whisked outside, another pops in through a distant window for a look around.

Security systems hate them, of course. When a spider tip-toes across one of the PIR (passive infra red) detectors, the system sees a huge moving mass just in front of its beady red eye, because it’s so close, and goes into panic mode. “Blardy hell, that’s a big burglar! I’d better report this. Now what’s the reporting code for: large moving mass, stomping around dining room on an impossible number of legs?…”

Even the baby stick insects seem to have a bit of “pep” this year. The latest invading youngster was able to clock up several centimetres of jogging before being persuaded to hop aboard a piece of fern for a trip back outside. The fastest of his species that I can recall. Perhaps they’re all in training for the Bug Olympics? Whatever the cause, I wish they’d all bug orf.

Leave a Reply