Friday, September 4, 2009


Bizarro is brought to you today by Creepy Crawlies.

Before the entomology police get onto me, I suspect that preying mantises don't eat their young, only their mate. I don't really know, but then cartoons don't have to be all that accurate. I've always heard that black widow spiders devour their mates, hence the name, and I've heard that preying mantises do this, too. Whether it is true or not, I like the gag.

I'm sure any species that occasionally eats its own young has a good reason, my own father used to threaten it when we pushed him too far, but it does seem rather counterproductive to propagating the species. There was a religion in the United States at one time that forbade sex for any reason, even procreation. (Can't remember the name. Blueballers? Shrivellers?)Their numbers depended entirely on conversions, and it isn't easy to convert someone to a lifestyle that denies sex. The predictable result was that the sect died out completely. All with pained grimaces on their faces, no doubt.

So if there were a species that regularly ate its young, it, too, would have to rely solely on converts. Not a very good evolutionary design for any animal.

I'm off to Philly for my comedy thingy in a couple of hours and may not be able to post over the weekend, but I will be twaddling on Twitter, via cell phone.

Until next time... it is the table without legs that is sturdiest.


sheer.nothingness said...

It was the "Shakers", an offshoot of the Quakers I believe (no joke).

doug nicodemus said...

that is pretty funny

but would you have sex if it led to death? and would they live longer if they could resist the urge?

Anonymous said...

United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, known as the Shakers, is probably the sect you are thinking about. Used to convert kids they "adopted" from orphanages, but since they can't do that anymore, there's like a dozen or so left.

Prospero said...

You're thinking of the Shakers.

Anonymous said...

Mantodea or mantises is an order of insects which contains approximately 2,200 species in 9 families [...] A colloquial name for the order is "praying mantises", because of the typical "prayer-like" stance, although the term is often mis-spelled as "preying mantis" since mantises are notoriously predatory.

RSJ said...

Without consulting 'The Google,' I think the 19th century 'no sex, no procreation' cult was the same one where the leader guaranteed, based on his Bible interpretations, that the world would end on January 1, 1888, and told all of his followers the only survivors would be those who climbed to the top of some obscure mountain in New Hampshire with him and prayed before midnight on 12/31. After the world was destroyed by an angry God, the cult would come down off the ski mountain and restart civilization; I guess then they would have been allowed to procreate.

His acolytes happily gave away all of their worldly possessions and climbed up the mountain. As midnight passed in all the time zones of the earth and nothing happened there was some grumbling, but Dear Leader said perhaps God used a different clock than man. As the sun rose at dawn, the disgusted and disappointed followers slowly made their way back down the mountain, only now they were flat broke with only the clothes on their backs left.

While most of the cult disbanded, a few hardy and stupid souls stuck with the leader as he proclaimed he had made an error in his calculations -- the actual end of the world would happen on January 1, 1900 at midnight! I don't recall what happened to them after that.

Tim said...

The religious group that forbade sex was the Shakers. They got their name because they would shake with religious fervor. The concept was that this was heaven now if you were right with God, and there is no marriage in heaven, therefore there is no marriage (and consequently, no sex) for those on earth.

They flourished for many years running orphanages; the children would be brought up in that religion, and many would remain as adults. When the government essentially took over orphanages, and emphasized foster care, the religion took a serious hit, but they still exist. There is one colony still around, somewhere in Maine. A few years ago, I took a tour of "Shakertown" in Kentucky (sounds like an amusement park, but there wasn't a single roller coaster to be found), where certain things are kept up for historicity, and got the lowdown.

The joke that went around was that Shakers didn't have sex because it was hard to hit a moving target.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if praying mantises eat their young, but I do know the young are liable to eat each other if given the chance!

The religion you are looking for is Shakers, which is short for Shaking Quakers. Shaking, because they allowed dancing, unlike the Quakers.

Jordan Klassen said...

That religious group was called shakers; they shook for some reason; not to be confused with quakers

Luis said...

Rats eat their own young if there's not enough food. A recent NOVA special called "Rat Attack" outlined how this keeps the rat population under control, until once every 48 years when bamboo flower and drop a nutritious fruit--and then the rat population explodes. They devour all the bamboo fruit, and then there are tons of rats and no more bamboo fruit--and so the rats swarm out from the bamboo forests, eating everything they can find, including the farm crops in the region, leaving destitute families with no food for the year.

PBS is cool.

Anonymous said...

Shakers are the religion prohibiting sex of any kind.

Brandon K. Baker said...

the religious group you're thinking of is the Shakers. I like the joke even if it doesn't make sense.

Penny Mitchell said...


Ann Coulter.


Isom said...

Have always loved your bizarre sense of humour. You're consistently fresh & funny despite being around for a few years now. This one about the praying mantis is particularly good though it's hard to say one is better than another as they're all so good.

Perhaps the religion you're thinking of is the Shakers. They never married & of course, never had sex to procreate, which is why there's so few left.

tenacious toys said...

Mantids, if hungry enough, will eat any other insect or animal that they can kill. My wife & I have raised a few oothecas of various species and while each ootheca can usually produce 80-300 baby mantids, we never got more than a few dozen to reach a 1" size.
Regarding who eats whom, the adult males usually die of natural causes soon after mating. Or they can be consumed by the larger females. Either way, they're toast.
The female usually dies after laying her ootheca but before the ootheca hatches.
By the time the babies emerge, the adult female and adult male are usually dead or gone.
The babies will definitely, absolutely eat each other, regardless of how much wingless fruit flies you feed to them. When the numbers began to dwindle, we'd start making a headcount every day. Each evening there were fewer mantids in the enclosure despite our having fed them every day.

(Side note- all mantids were raised to be let go on my father's land in the country, and he has notices, 3 years later, that there are still babies mantids showing up on his porch every once in a while. So our babies that we released did manage to mate & lay eggs and reproduce successfully)

Piraro said...

Thanks for all the great info about praying mantises. I'm one of those people who has been misspelling it "preying" for years. Hate to be wrong, glad I've been set straight.

Regarding Shakers, I thought that was who I was thinking of but wasn't sure and didn't have time to check. Thanks for that info, too!

Anonymous said...

you must like Stephen Wright. Many of your closing one-liners are in his same style ("on the other hand, you have different fingers"). good stuff.