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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Four: Case File No. 50-206

AMBER LOVE 19-APR -2021 This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.

Where We Left Off:

Guster Nabu found a fascinating rocky corridor that we believe could be catacombs.

The Amazing Psych-Man & Tap Man, Issue No. 2, “The Mantis”:

In past years, the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency has covered the remarkable reproduction and metamorphoses of unusual beings like fairies and enchanted tree lobsters. This year, we discovered another peculiar thing on a tiny Japanese maple branch. I suspected something gross. In fairness, I think most details of reproduction are gross once it’s more than cellular division. Miraculous, but still gross.

praying mantis cocoon egg

The sapling is growing in a corner where Gus has successfully captured voles. To be honest, I think I don’t think the cocoon interested him much. I can understand why it wouldn’t. It wasn’t moving. It didn’t have a critter on it or bursting out of it. I wanted to document it for our research, but do you know how hard it is to take photos or videos when you don’t want to look at something?

praying mantis cocoon egg

As I reveal the photos to you, see how quickly you think you know what it is. For those who spend a lot of time outside in New Jersey in the kind of backyard that attracts bugs and critters of all types, I bet you’re already certain that this is a praying mantis cocoon. Or egg? I don’t know what they technically have and like I said, researching things that require visual confirmation when you have a creepy-crawly phobia is super challenging.

2017 Photos of Gus Observing a Praying Mantis

Think about how small humans are before they’re really anything viable. Clumps of cells. Then they get compared to sizes of fruit (much the same way as tumors do). Size of a sesame seed to grape to plum to apple to avocado, papaya, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and on and on until you find all fruit and vegetables revolting. But think about how enormous we are as full-grown humans compared to how we started. This is why I wasn’t ready to unquestionably accept that this small sac on a tree was going to be a small animal when it hatched. It could start off small but end up people size.

When it comes to unexpected creature sightings, like West Virginia’s Mothman, there’s no discussion about how these beings grow up. They have a common origin story of appearing, fully grown, out of nowhere. That’s why I’ve devoted so much time to covering how our local beloved cryptid, the Jersey Devil, actually began reproducing with compatible species like the white-tailed deer.

Psych TV show

I nearly spit my coffee out when I was doing praying mantis research and came upon the Mantis Man legend which began RIGHT HERE! I’ve been here almost my entire life and never heard this legend before. One of the eyewitnesses described the Mantis:

It wasn’t a person and it was transparent-like with a weird shape. It moved slowly towards the bank and into the trees. I drove further so I could see it coming out of the trees. That’s the last I saw of it.

It was tall, 8 ft. or so and had long thin arms hanging off of it. The color was a pale brown, but I could see through it! The head was small compared to the body.

Some suspect the Mantis creature to be an extraterrestrial in order to explain why a non-aquatic insect would be near the “mighty” Musconetcong River (it’s little more than a creek, but people fish and go tubing). If this Mantis came from another world and needed a safe place to lay its eggs or whatever reproduction process it goes through, it could be why grown Mantises were spotted. Think of the Frog Woman in The Mandalorian. She needed to get her eggs to a safe planet. Naturally since the first eyewitnesses were men, they gave the creature the moniker “Mantis Man” but it is the female of the species that is dominant. Let’s just say Mantis or Mantisoid, okay?

Psych-Man The Catch and Tap Man

A couple weeks after the March 29th photos, I looked around the branches of the small Japanese maple to see if any of the cocoon or egg sac structure was left. I found nothing. Like the red-spotted newt, perhaps these creatures go through different morphs each requiring a different environment. The newt is sometimes in water and walks to the woods. Maybe these Mantisoids are similar in their needs. We could spot one walking through the yard for a one-mile migration to the river where it prepares for its next stage of life.

Case Findings:

We have no way of knowing if the egg sac or cocoon we found was a common praying mantis or the off-spring of the cryptid Mantisoid (aka Mantis Person). Since the sac disappeared, perhaps eaten by the creature once it hatched, the only evidence is the photographs.

Case Status: Closed

litter at the Musky River
Don’t litter. Assholes litter.

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