Seeking Direction?

Another fascinating bit of insect lore, gleaned from the pages of “Insect Friends and Foes” by William Atherton DuPuy (1925).

The mantis knows the way!

“Its very name, mantis, means diviner, or fortune-teller. The English call it a soothsayer and old-fashioned people over there believe that its long finger will point the way home to a lost child. In France young women go to the crossroads and ask the mantis from which way their lovers will come.”

Now which direction is the mantis pointing me toward, a simple gardener trying to find Spring?

Forward, I suppose, one day at a time.


Frances said…
What an enchanting illustration!
It looks as though he is shrugging his shoulders and putting his hands out saying "I dunno!"
Annie in Austin said…
The mantis looks like something from an old fairytale rather than an insect book, Carol!

I kind of peeked into the rabbit hole for you without falling down (too much to do in the garden!) Found little Willie A Dupuy as a 4-year old on the 1880 Census... he's an Anderson County, Texas boy, y'all! Later on he & wife Ada live in the District of Columbia - both he and Ada have 'Newspaper Journalist' as their occupations on the 1930 Census.
Also he apparently gained fame for tagging a kind of presidential fitness sport as "Hoover Ball". Must have been quite a character!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose
I had never heard any folklore about Mantis. Interesting. I love the illustrations in old books. I had the first bug of the year in our kitchen last night. A stinkbug of some sort. It felt strange hearing it clunk against the glass of the window, then it waddled around on the table until it was ushered outside.
Marcia said…
The mantis puts me in mind of prehistoric fauna. Doesn't it look like it could have been a dinosaur in a previous existence? I see about one a year in the garden and let them be.

By the way, please consider adding me to your blog list. Thanks!
Bom said…
Is the illustration also from the book? It must be quite an interesting read. Thanks for sharing this mantis tidbit.
What I love about a mantis is the way it inspects you as you try to photograph it.
Commonweeder said…
I love the illustration. I've been enjoying the botanical drawings of Orra White Hitchcock whose work is on display at the Amherst College Mead Art Museum right now. Her work stands up to the best work being done today - and botanical artists are still doing important useful work.
Gail said…
Love that illustration Carol.
Cyndy said…
While the story is enchanting, I do seem to recall from junior high science class that the mantis female devours the male after mating. Hopefully those French females aren't taking all their romance tips from the mantis :)
I love that! Now I'm going to start reading up this little guy.. they have always been so interesting to me, but this gives me another reason to research them.
Dear Carol, I love the lost child story. You do share the most interesting excerpts from your neat, old books. P x
ProfessorRoush said…
I never heard this story before, but now I'll think of it every time I see a mantis. Thanks Carol.