This is Spike. Spike is a praying mantis. Spike is Jacob’s class pet. Jacob’s classmate Olivia caught him at her house. Spike eats live flies and crickets. Spike is WAY bigger than when this picture was taken. I find myself worrying about where Spike’s next meal will come from.
It started a few weekends ago. A fly was buzzing around our living room and Jake assigned me a mission: Catch that fly for Spike.
We spent several hours trying to nab that fly in our plastic bug jar. Spirited flies are much harder to catch than you’d think. I prefer dehydrated, discouraged flies. But not too dehydrated or discouraged. That’s the realm of despondent. Keeping a spirited fly alive for two days is tough. Keeping a despondent fly alive through the weekend is downright demoralizing. And Spike doesn’t eat dead flies.
So two Sundays ago, my dehydrated fly catch didn’t make it through the night. I had to dump him in the bushes at school. Spike had gone days without eating. Olivia’s mom will bring pet store crickets if things are really desperate, but why go to Petco when the world is full of free flies? And what about the thrill of the chase? Catching flies has become my new weekend pastime. I’m purposefully leaving the back door open so as to let a fly into my house.
After the burial in the bushes, I left the boys at school and was working from home. Suddenly, it was like my spidey sense activated. What’s that sound? Is that a fly? My eyes darted around and then zeroed in as it buzzed the control tower. Breakfast for Spike…
I am Mr. Miyagi.
I was so excited to get to school that afternoon and redeem myself from my Sunday night failure. I took my prized fly to show Miss Amy. Jacob taught me to transfer it into a plastic bag, put the plastic bag into the praying mantis enclosure, shake the fly out, remove the bag, and then quick shut the lid.
Spike is very big. Spike is very still. He looks a lot like a twig. My unsuspecting fly buzzed around, desperately looking for a way out. He flew right under the twig and then, SNAP! Spike grabbed him with his flamingo-leg arms. It happened so fast I whooped in surprised excitement and scared poor, unsuspecting Nate.
After this undeniable accomplishment, I caught another smaller fly. But overnight, that fly mysteriously vanished from our Breakfast for Spike jar. It was either a magic fairy disguised as a fly, or it squeezed through a tiny air hole so small that water droplets won’t go through, or there’s Nate. He claims ignorance so I guess we’re going with magic fairy. Of course after all of this skillful success, Jacob has now upped the ante and invented a new hobby for me: Catching crickets.
So far we’ve tried three versions of wikiHow cricket traps. We tried the newspaper trap. We tried the soda bottle trap but with an agave syrup bottle. We tried the soda bottle trap but with a real two liter soda bottle (That trap required us to have root beer floats two nights in a row. Maybe my favorite trap.). We tried adding a light to the soda bottle trap. The only traps left to try are the toilet paper roll trap, the loaf of bread trap, and the duct tape trap. We may have to try the lighted crate trap, but that one looks like a bit of a project.
Jake is now losing faith in my cricket trapping skills and trying to sell me on the Petco trap.
But I know better than to walk into that one…