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In A Pickle  

Backyard battles

Lily, the wasp, pounced on the caterpillar, grabbed with her jaws and bit into its spongy skull. 

Venom coursed through his body, but Conrad, the caterpillar had plenty of fight.

Although the thread waisted wasp was much smaller, Conrad was no match for Lily’s ninja skills. He swung wildly, back and forth, trying to shake her, but she had latched on, four legs wrapped securely around him.

Nearby insects trembled, hearing Conrad’s muffled screams. Unfazed, Lily rode Conrad like a bucking bronco, determined to bring him down.

She was eager to provide a feast for her unborn larvae. The parasitic eggs would hatch upon the living, but catatonic Conrad and eat their host. 

Birds gathered and chirped excitedly, watching the life-and-death struggle.

They licked their beaks in anticipation of two bugs sandwiched together like a bacon-cheese burger. The feathered fiends bided their time, waiting to swoop.

Lily didn’t give them a chance, though, because she rode Conrad under the deck. His legs, now paralyzed, had buckled, so she did the walking for both.

She pushed, pulled and dragged the caterpillar across the deck’s wooden surface after winding her way back up through the cracks. This manoeuvre foiled the birds’ dive-bombing attempts.

Suddenly, the situation became far worse than Lily imagined; a human creature stood there holding a strange black box that made scary clicking sounds and set off flashes of light.

Lily hid behind Conrad, peered over his immobilized body, never releasing her grip.

Now cornered, Lily mounted Conrad and dove backward off  the deck, free falling to the cement below. It was a long drop — for a wasp — but Conrad cushioned Lily’s fall, like a soft, springy inner tube. They hit the ground and bounced.

Lily snapped one of her antennae, but rode her trophy across the gravel, down a slope, toward her lair.

While Lily was homeward bound, another voracious predator lurked inside a potted plant, awaiting an unsuspecting bug or humming bird to dine upon. It was Frances, the praying mantis.

Frances was enraged when she, too, was confronted by the camera, which was still giving off lightning flashes.  She reared like a tiny kangaroo and punched with her front legs, shadow boxing the light. Long spikes on her legs slashed the air.

Frances hoped to puncture this new opponent. She planned to snag it, tuck her head into the mantis praying position and eat her tormentor.

As abruptly as Frances was besieged in the spotlight, she was just as quickly left alone in the dark. Now she could freely pursue her real prey, the black widow spider.

Frances waited, listening intently with her ultrasonic ear, a vertical line on her throat.

However, the hunter became the hunted and Frances was attacked by the black widow. Fortunately, Frances was able to turn the tables on the widow by hooking her with a spike, then chomped down on her legs and body.

The mantis appeared to thoroughly enjoy her meal, making slurping noises while dining. She staggered up onto a leaf bed, exhausted from the battle, belly bulging and ready to nap. 

Moments later, Frances awakened to Lily’s grunts as she dragged Conrad’s unresponsive body across the sidewalk. 

Lucky for Lily, Frances had had her fill.   

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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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