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 bob.cchs@sbcglobal.net. See http://www.cchumane.org. Proceeds benefit animals through their spay-neuter, Adopt-A-Friend and medical programs.

Dear Gary:

In 1981 our family lived half a block from the original Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Our daughter Heather was 10 and decided for her first job to volunteer at the museum. She cleaned cages, mixed food, and fell in love with wildlife.

She spent several years at Lindsay, working her way up to sub-supervisor and aide, rotating through several animal care departments. She went on to work in several vet hospitals during her teens. After graduation from Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, as a licensed Veterinary Technician, her first job was at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore.

Heather married and moved to the Seattle area where she did work at a zoo and an animal farm. She returned to the Bay Area in 1998 to work at the Oakland Zoo. She was the first full-time vet. tech. at the zoo and went on to become a Lead Keeper in the Animal Management Department.

Her entire family became involved at the zoo and it all began with the inspiration she received at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.

Sue Lewis, Antioch

Dear Sue:

Heather and I have a lot in common.

The museum helped me refine my understanding and caring for animals and started me writing these columns. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the museum.

Please help me help the museum in their time of need. Send your donations to: Lindsay Wildlife Museum -- Gary's Fundraiser, 1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek, CA 94597-2540. Thanks!

A FINAL NOTE

I have to walk very carefully in my garden to keep from stepping on the lizards.

Mama fence and alligator lizards laid their eggs in our garden boxes and they hatched out this summer. When I go out to pick some really tasty tomatoes or zucchini, they go zip-zip-zipping off in all directions.

I don't use poisons in my garden, so they're on bug patrol -- all the bugs they can eat -- 24/7.

Find more Gary in his blog at blogs.contracostatimes.com/garybogue; write Gary, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099; old columns at ContraCostaTimes.com, click on Columns; e-mail garybug@infionline.net.