every little thing / by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

In gardening, one can easily be reminded that sometimes it's hard to leave well enough alone. The little sprouts pulled last week, the ones resembling weeds?; this week you may discover they were the makings of the elegant and hard-to-cultivate cardinal flowers you planted last year.

Once when walking along a country road a friend and I spotted an architecturally distinct bird's nest cradled in the crook of a branch. It was winter so we knew the nest wasn't active.

"Let's take it!" we shouted in near unison as we moved to examine it more closely. It was truly a marvel of construction. We pondered the species that would have made it. Hummingbird? Much too big. Bluebird? Neat enough and about the right size, but would a bluebird nest this close to the road? Unlikely, besides, it seemed too deep to be a bluebird nest. Black-capped chickadee? White-breasted nuthatch? We didn't know. "That's so awesome to see it."

And then, in a rare moment of clarity, we realized we didn't need the nest. The act of seeing of it, the examination of it, the discussion of what it meant, of who constructed it, was moment enough. We didn't need to remove it, carry it back to the house and put it on the mantle.

Removing the nest wouldn't have been an environmental crime with major repercussions, especially since in reality it amounted to a small bundle of twigs organized intently and glued together by spittle.

Except one. Taking the nest would deprive anyone else walking along this lane of the opportunity of discovering it just as we had discovered it. So we left it. Secure in the branch and in our memories.

That act was brought back to me this week because a month or so when working in the garden, cutting down some dead ornamental grasses to make room for new growth, I found a pod glued to one of the stalks. The pod wasn't anything I recognized. It appeared to have two halves, each about the size of quarter. The exterior was hard and had a silky appearance, probably grass leaves, chewed into fine bits, and then reguritated and formed into this lenticular shaped pair of pods. Immediately I thought of a paper wasp or other stinging insect; but the pod was unusual enough that I didn't recogonize it. I cut around the stalk so that the pod remain attached and brought it inside to try and find out what kind of wasp would make such a pod. I put it on the table in the foyer and immediately forgot about it.
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Until this week. I saw the pod and it looked like something had attacked it. Meal worms! immediately came to mind. There were holes in the side. I picked it up and examined it closely. The exterior was covered with small critters. It took me a moment to realize what they were. Damn! They were pr1ying mantises. Inside the house the heat and time of year has triggered them to hatch, the juveniles had crawled out looking for their first meal to sustain life and what did they find? Nothing. So they clung to the only thing they knew and they starved to death. Bummer. And dumb on my part. Now my garden would be deprived of fewer benign insects and perhaps more destructive ones. People pay good money for praying mantis eggs and had I remembered what they looked like, I would have known and left well and good enough alone.