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    Posted December 2, 2011 by
    Virginia Beach, Virginia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    'Tis the season for giving... odd gifts?

    More from ecotraveler

    A Face Only a Mother Could Love?


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     ecotraveler says she 'mustered up my courage to get as close as possible without scaring them' when she shot those photos of the praying mantises. 'Wanted to get close to show those neat eyes looking right into the lens. Shudder.'
    - rachel8, CNN iReport producer

    There's still 22 shopping days 'til Christmas, but this may top my list of the most unusual Christmas gifts  I've ever given. With alien-like heads that swivel and turn 180° to follow your every move if you dare get close enough, they give new meaning to the phrase, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
    A family friend  just happens to think that Praying Mantises are beautiful, and loves watching them and letting them crawl on him.  He also loves to grow his own vegetables, so it seemed the perfect gift for him, with a good laugh thrown in to boot.

    It turns out he's not alone.  While searching for a source, I discovered an entire web site of Mantis-lovers dedicated to the care, reproduction, feeding, and TLC of these guys.  And lots of others who weigh in on-line and share their experience and love of these large, voracious insects, not only for the garden but for pets.
    In my quest to purchase them, I escaped Black Friday lines and went straight to a local garden center, McDonalds, known for their horticultural expertise where I planned to purchase twenty or so.
    Twenty I rationed, would be a good number for him to pick out his favorites and to teach his toddler how funny and fascinating Mother Nature can be while she watched the little guys grow. The rest of them would be happy with the bug buffet in his garden.
    And it turns out, it’s the gift that may keep giving. Instead of a few Praying Mantises munching happily in his back yard, 10,000 is the least amount I could buy so he'll have plenty to choose from, and plenty to give the neighbors for some pesticide-free gardening in 2012. Allllll the neighbors for blocks and blocks.

    Happy holidays!

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