On my way down to the garden, I spied what appeared to be an empty cocoon lying on the ground under the oak tree. When I picked it up, I realized it was the empty egg sac of a praying mantis. It reminded me of an empty tomb, full of death. The Carolina Mantis is a native to my state. It’s also the official state insect. No wonder, because here in the Bible belt, if it has to do with religion we are all about that! A lot of folks like the idea of God creating a bug that demonstrates prayer. Exactly my point - all about anything that appears to be religious. Even the name mantis has a religious connotation. Mantis comes from the Greek, “mantikos” meaning soothsayer or prophet. How wonderful to have a praying prophet in my garden or is it?
The praying mantis appears to fold its hands in prayer as if asking grace or the blessing as we say down South. But in truth, the praying mantis is lying in wait for some unsuspecting prey. He has long spikes attached to those praying hands that will hold any insect, good or bad, tightly in its grip while it chows down on the live bug. The praying mantis does not care if the bug is good or bad. He may be camouflaged near a flower, waiting to snatch a native bee whose only job is to pollinate and make honey for its hive and for us. He may be waiting on that potato bug that’s chomping on your crop, either way, the mantis just wants something else to devour. It will even eat other mantis if any are around. After its meal, it uses those strong arms to wash its face, cleaning itself of the deadly deed.
A praying mantis can turn its head 180 degrees. If someone tries to sneak up on it, it turns its head and looks straight at them, as if daring them to try anything. His sharp mandibles (his chompers) can even cut human skin.
I’m really not afraid of the praying mantis in my garden, but I am watchful for Satan’s emissaries who appear to be religious, maybe even appearing to be an angel from heaven (Galatians 1:8). God’s purpose for His creation is for us to learn from it. Jesus tells us to “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15. A few verses later He tells us how to know the difference. We have to become fruit inspectors. Do we know God’s Word well enough to know the difference in the truth and a lie that just sounds good?
This week let us all “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” I Peter 5:8