It was the day after I overheard my mother explain to my sister-in-law that roaches seek out human saliva that my mother’s credibility level was at an all-time low.
She said it in such a matter of fact type of way that my sister-in-law refused to return home until an exterminator treated their condo and spent the rest of the afternoon searching online for more information.
I pulled the spreader of misinformation off to the side.
“Mom, why would you scare her like that?”
“What?” my mother asked with feigned innocence.
“You can’t go around saying things like that,” I explained. “People believe what you say.”
She shrugged, “It’s true.”
“No, it’s not. You just made it up.”
“Puney, we will just have to agree to disagree on this one.”
The disagreement was as resolved as it would ever be until the next day when a praying mantis landed on the red hummingbird feeder that was held up by a suction cup on the window.
The praying mantis aggressively postured itself on the outer edge of the feeder with its creepy arms up, ready for a fight or a prayer, making it impossible for a hummingbird to sip from the sweet nectar without the chance of the praying mantis making contact.
“You better get rid of that praying mantis, if you care about your hummingbirds,” my mom cautioned. “They can bite the heads off of hummingbirds.”
“Stop it. There is no way that is true.”
I couldn’t deal with this new fact which I assumed came from the same well of knowledge as the roach tidbit. I felt confident in calling her out on this. There was no way there could even be a fair fight between the two creatures.
We watched through the window with Little Legs begging to be picked up for a better view, studying the insect as it held perfectly still, waiting for what, I was unsure. Obviously, my mother already voiced her opinion in this regard.
A hummingbird buzzed past the feeder followed by another like two tiny fighter jets, surveying the area and potential enemy. The first hummer returned and landed next to the praying mantis for the briefest second, flew off and returned a minute later. Reassured by its uneventful encounter, the hummer landed for a cautious drink.
And the mantis struck out, punching the bird in a shock and awe performance.
I thought it was a fluke but when it happened again and again, I knew I was wrong.
It was possible for a praying mantis to hurt a hummingbird, at the least. Don’t look it up online, the images confirming the same are horrifying. And I had to eat crow.
A big mouthful of it.