So, in the neverending quest to defend my patio garden from six-legged pirates--whiteflies, in this case, who are all over my peppermint (which does not care) and my verbena (which is trying to be cool and blasé) and my acorn squash (which are suffering)--I brought home a small bucket of lady bugs from Whole Foods this week.
Lady bugs, despite their lovely little carapaces, are badass beetles. They eat things. They're a little scary. We spent breakfast staring closely at them, and admiring their sharp little leg barbs and their mandibles and sniggering over the anticipated death of whiteflies.
So of course, most of yesterday was about lady bugs abandoning the garden, with a few diehards exploring all the plants and apparently signing a truce with the whiteflies. None of this is the point. What is: I had a small colony of lady bugs hanging out on the banana peppers.
Now, the banana pepper is alternately pissy (omg! not enough water! too much water! wah! sun!) and tough (I will winter in your house with nary a yellow leaf. Also, whiteflies hate me). It is perhaps fitting, then, that it is home to a tiny little baby mantis. I discovered her (I assume gender) a few weeks ago, when I thought she was an unwelcome insect and went to flick her off, and she reared up and waved her hair-thin forelegs at me, at which point I figured out what she was and decided she should stay.
I lost track of her last week, and assumed she had become a bird casualty. And then, yesterday, with her banana pepper occupied by lady bugs, she reappeared.
I don't know if the lady bug even got a shot in. You will note she's still tiny, but our little girl's growing up. Pity she doesn't eat whiteflies.