I am often baffled in Japan by the extreme reactions provoked by the visitation of insects. A cockroach appearing somewhere can render grown men into quivering ninnies: a hornet mass hysteria (mind you, these can kill ; every year a number of people do die from the stings).
Even a tiny winged fly entering the classroom is a gateway to mayhem, though – much to my irritation. I am simply not bothered by them; a spider, providing it hides away somewhere, I can live with. Cicadas whirring towards me like clockwork kamikazes do make me scream, I will confess, but I like hearing them whizzing in the trees.
We are all different in our levels of entomological acceptance ; I have rescued giant stag beetles, mean no harm to them generally even if the swatting of mosquitoes happens almost unconsciously – when they draw blood I draw the line- but my personal phobia is most definitely the praying mantis.
Much as I understand some people’s fascination with them, these green, swivel-headed, limb articulated leaf gleaming monstrosities viscerally repulse me at the deepest level ; once in our old house there was one on the washing line grinning down at me like an alien from a 50’s b-movie and I was screeching in octaves I didn’t even know I had inside me; firing gallons of water from the garden hose pipe did nothing to deter the creature : ( in my mind ) it slowly advanced towards me ; I had to run, ashamed, shrieking and undignified in immediate earshot of the neighbors.
On Wednesday, I had just finished writing the previous post on The Black Narcissus when THIS appeared out of nowhere a few feet away in our upstairs hallway.
I lie. We had seen it a few days before crawling slowly on the window downstairs and I had shouted for Duncan to come a witness the horror – not ever expecting that it would enter within.
When I saw it my heart stopped.
I went all clammy and I couldn’t move. Though slow balletic, graceful, curious (etc etc), its presence – and it did feel very present, imbuing the air around it with its obvious personality – was unacceptable to me; yet I could also find no viable reason to kill it. It was just doing its thing.
BUT NOT IN MY SPACE.
And I had to get past it in order to go downstairs and get in thr shower before work. But this was impossible. Because if it flew at me – and they do fly / I might literally die of a heart attack.
I was frozen.
Naturally, when I eventually came somewhat to my senses I called up d, who very serendipitously happened to just be on his lunch break.
At first, he probably thought it was some random heavy breather, as I couldn’t exactly speak.
Bar me throwing heavy objects at it to dislodge, we then discussed it and the only option seemed to be to somehow trap it.
But, obviously, doing that involves approaching, which wasn’t something that I felt I could do.
However, this creep wasn’t going anywhere.
In fact it seemed quite happy where it was, in its natural praying position (UGH !!!!! So repellent !!!’ ‘’’’ :::: would any of you have felt similarly ?)
In the end, after hanging up and what felt like an endless passage of time, I finally plucked up the courage to seek out a plant pot with breathing holes on the balcony, and heroically managed to entrap it within in one fell swoop that also involved frenetically piling books on top so there was no escape until d could come home hours later and hurl the lot from the window (he sent me a message, later, saying it had been ‘feisty’ and ‘rattling around’ inside, making me blanch at my work desk with a profound quease).
It only occurred to me later in the evening, on my way home, that the females of the Mantodea species are ‘semi-cannibalistic’, devouring their sex partners after the act is done (as you do), and that we had just had our bizarro carnavsl Papaya: Love Goddess Of The Cannibals on Saturday,; it was almost as if we had conjured it up.
Strange as that might sound, this has actually happened before ( literally; with snakes, raccoons and once with an owl, which you NEVER see in this area but which soared up before me one night after d had performed with some owl-themed material : I was startled beyond measure as its vast white and grey wings swooped up into the night …)
Sometimes you don’t know what you are getting yourself into.