Guiseppe the Albino Praying Mantis!

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I marveled at the oddities of nature. Those gigantic swan-type plants that bore bananas, the endless varieties of succulents and glamorous palm trees. One thing I thought we were short on, was insect life. And I was fine with that! L.A. is too dry for mosquito infestations, and as an East Coaster, I was thankful for it.

popping out to greet me after a long day
Then I realized something - the nicer the neighborhood, the more nature takes over. I was so used to living in the concrete flatlands of Hollywood, that wildlife was an afterthought. I didn't even see bees. Then we moved to Studio City, at the foot of Laurel Canyon. Holy coyotes in the driveway on summer nights. Black widows under patio rocks. Moths smothering our porch lights and a wasp nest in the lemon tree.

making his way to his nightly perch; my shoulder
All of this was fairly unnerving, until we met Giuseppe. He's the albino praying mantis that used to hang out on our front porch. Grayish and papery, my husband and I thought it was the shell of a praying mantis. I said, "I didn't know they shed their skin like snakes." As we inched closer to the specimen, it suddenly turned his head towards us. We jumped. 

He even started popping out during the day
But a new friendship was born, and Giuseppe would pop out from behind the porch light when I came home. He liked to jump on my hand and crawl up my arm. He'd rest on my shoulder as I walked around the yard. To him, it must have felt like flying. He preferred the top of my head when we walked, but he was so big, that when he moved it felt like someone was brushing my hair. It gave me the creepy crawlies. He'd come into the house and stare at the glow in the fireplace. So mesmerized he was, that he didn't move his shiny triangle face from it for a second. 

Evening stroll
Then one day he was gone. We looked around the porch light but only saw the corpses of the moths he sucked dry. No trace of his easy-to-spot body anywhere. His color made him an easy target, and Lord knows he was too trusting. It's been months, we was always keep an eye out, just in case. He's a reminder that nature is a joy, and not a nuisance. Readers, since there's a chance you think I'm a bit loopy because of this, rest assured that I have no intention of trying this with coyotes. 

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