Yes, folks, this is a bug. A very BIG bug. And you KNOW how I feel about bugs in general.
But actually, THIS insect was cause for great excitement in our household, because THIS bug... this four-and-a-half inch bug, is a fully-grown Praying Mantis.
Earlier this year, I wrote several posts about pest control in my garden. I'm not a lover of pests, but I'm also not a lover of using pesticides in the place where my children play.
I confess, when my friend Bill over at Sheridan Nurseries suggested that I purchase a Praying Mantis egg sack and hatch it in a bug-house in my backyard, I initially thought he was well and truly bonkers.
However, Bill has never, ever steered me wrong in the past, and so this Green Gardener (in more ways than one) carefully brought the precious package home, plonked it down in the flowerbed, and waited.
It took weeks and weeks of letting it sit out in the sunshine AND the rain, but finally, one morning while I was out at the patio table drinking my morning coffee, I happened to look over towards the poppies and pincushion flowers... and caught sight of THIS:
It's hard to believe that one of these wee, creepy-crawly babies can grow into a honkin' critter like THIS:
But, as Bill told me, Praying Mantes are not just "bugs". They are Insects With Serious Attitude, and a penchant for ingesting all other critters that are a nuisance in the garden. Well, except raccoons, that is... but, looking at this fully-grown son-of-a-gun, I actually wouldn't put it past him to take a swing at Rocky and The Boys, just for fun.
Thanks for everything, Horace (yes, that's what the girlies decided to name him). You did a superb job this summer, and my garden and I really appreciate it. I'm looking forward to doing business with your offspring next year...