The animals of the world exist for their own reasons.

-- Alice Walker

Dear Gary:

My son and I just witnessed a savage attack at our hummingbird feeder. A praying mantis ambushed a female Anna's hummer as she perched on the feeder outside our window, then swiftly killed her and fed on her for quite a while.

We first saw the mantis hanging around the feeder a few days ago. We thought it was after aphids on the roses. When I told my sister about it, she said she'd seen a mantis that had captured a hummer by the beak, but no one believed her. Ugh.

Charlotte Gibb, Lafayette

Dear Charlotte:

Mantids are one of the most powerful insect predators in nature. They usually spend their time preying on other insects, but they'll grab anything that comes within range -- including tiny hummers.

It's not common for them to catch hummers but it does happen. If you Google "mantis, hummingbird" you'll find a few photos of the same.

It's a good thing a preying mantis isn't two or three feet long. We humans would have to stay inside!

NOAH'S ARK-TION

Contra Costa Humane Society is having a dinner-auction, Oct. 6, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 45 John Glenn Drive, Concord. Cocktails, silent auction, 6-7:30 p.m., then dinner and live auction (sports equipment, bicycles, jewelry, vacation packages, etc.). Music by "Lost Cats."

Tickets ($60 each, two for $100) and details at 925-279-2247, or e-mail