WASHINGTON, DC – Bugs have taken their fair share in the spotlight in the past few months. From Mike Pence’s flight during the Vice Presidential debate to the Joe Biden cicada bombardment on a DC tarmac, it should come as no surprise that a praying mantis couldn’t wait to debut in the spotlight of a recent Washington Nationals baseball game.
The insect’s unsuspecting companion: Nationals Centerfielder Victor Robles.
It was the ninth inning of the August 2 game between the Nationals and the Phillies. Robles was sitting in the dugout when a guest hit his baseball cap directly.
What made it a home run, however, was that the praying mantis paused even when Robles left the dugout to take his position on the field.
Two Phillies doughs later, the praying mantis was still there, resting on the brim of her hat. Maybe it was praying that Robles would make a big catch?
Robles took it with flying colors and made the most of it even when communicating with other players – including the praying mantis.
This isn’t the first time an insect has stolen the national television spotlight.
During last year’s Vice Presidency debate, an ordinary housefly made itself at home on the head of former Vice President Mike Pence and stayed in the snow-white nest for 2 minutes and 3 seconds while its host paced back and forth with Vice President Kamala Harris.
Pence didn’t notice the fly – or maybe didn’t acknowledge it, but that didn’t stop the insect from giving birth to countless memes and inspiring plenty of food for nightly monologues.
In June it was President Joe Biden’s turn as he waited to board Air Force One. Flocks of Brood-X cicadas darted back and forth across the tarmac, and when television crews filmed Biden, they captured the fateful moment when he reached up and hit his neck.
“Take care of those cicadas,” he told reporters. “It got me.”
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Neither cicadas nor flies do any harm, but what about praying mantis? They too are harmless, according to National Geographic.
The non-toxic praying mantis is named for its distinctive front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that makes it look like the insect is praying. They are typically green or brown in color.
Despite being formidable predators, a praying mantis mainly eats moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects. They are also known to eat frogs, lizards, and small birds.
It’s unclear whether the praying mantis was one of the cannibal species known for violent mating rituals, in which the females bite off their heads and eat other parts of the male’s body after mating – the behavior, says National Geographic, “can only be a bit of an exaggeration being”.