Mantis and Mate, Page 2

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That was a moment of rare excitement and amazement. From her unnatural station on the fourth floor of a modern brick apartment house that female mantis had announced that she was heavy with eggs. Far below, probably in the wooded valley of Klingle Run, that male had started the long journey that ended far up that brick wall.

How the female had called one can only conjecture. Perhaps it was with a fragrance too delicate for human sense. Possibly it was with a note the vibrations of which were beyond the range of my ears.

Yet, running ahead of amazement, my curiosity was aroused. The evening's engagement was forgotten. I had read that the female mantis devours the male after he has fertilized the eggs, and I saw an opportunity to check my author. I raised the screen, and the male moved onward in his 'journey-across the window sill, along the wall, up to the top of the lintel of the door. Sinensis moved slightly when the male entered, and as he made his way toward her she swayed gently, to and fro. The male, waving his abdomen to the right and left, excitedly flagging his mate until at times he was almost doubled up, came quickly to the branch that extended from the doorway to the shower-curtain rod. He made his way along this branch more and more slowly. Sinensis, facing her mate, was hanging from the other side of the rod. The male stopped his forward movement, stood for several minutes, crouching, watching, throwing his abdomen from side to side. Then suddenly he leaped the eighteen inches between himself and Sinensis so quickly that I saw only departure and arrival. He had grasped her with his strong forelegs over her pseudo-shoulders, having turned a half somersault in his leap.

Sinensis had not changed her position since the male entered the room, but almost as soon as he had her in his embrace she started to move, carrying him on her back. She made her way along the rod to the branch, along the main stem of - the branch to a smaller one drooping toward the floor, and then she turned down. As she hung toward the floor, the male was in a precarious position. I saw that he had no grasp on her except that with his forelegs over her shoulders. And her shoulders were below him. With each movement Sinensis made, the force of gravity was carrying the male nearer and nearer to within reach of her "praying" legs.

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