Vaun is a book keeper from New Jersey. He stands at 5’11 with a lanky, freckled body. His artificially spiked hair with yellow highlights imply that he has a certain care about his appearance, but his bug enthusiasm seems to take away any credibility he might have had.
Vuan is a bug enthusiast. He’s raising an empty pretzel jar full of baby praying mantises in his apartment. Last weekend he found two praying mantis nests at a farm, and took them home to hatch. Originally he started out using a mason jar to house the two egg sacks. A week later, hundreds of baby praying mantises hatched, and he decided it was time to move to a larger terrarium: an emptied out pretzel jar from Costco.
He speaks to them like at cat or a dog owner might speak to their pets when no one is listening. They have become his friends, and he is a little sad that he must let the majority of them go. He had also originally planned to breed the praying mantises, raise them to adulthood and then sell them online for ten bucks a pop. This idea is falling through as he begins to see that the mantis babies are beginning to eat one another inside the pretzel terrarium. He’s not a monster, he’s going to set most of them free.
That freedom comes around noon that day, when he finds a nice patch of petunias growing in a neighbor’s yard. Praying mantises eat all the annoying little bugs in a garden, so he’s really doing his neighbors a favor. Well, at least the baby mantises eat tiny bugs. Adult mantises can take down hummingbirds. Anything that’s smaller than them. He saves five individual praying mantises, and the rest run free among the petunias.
He finds himself staying up into the early hours of the morning that night, reading Wikipedia about Praying Mantis development. His eyes routinely dart back to the empty Cosco pretzel jar now being occupied by the five little green bugs that are left. Like an overprotective parent, he’s just making sure they are still there. Mantises have a reputation of consuming one another in a bloody battle, though that’s generally only when they are adults. His research leads him to discover that this variety is probably a nonnative species, either European or Chinese. They are beginning to turn brown, so he’s betting they are European variety: the Chinese ones are green as adults.
Vaun doesn’t really ever have guests over to his apartment. This is partly because he doesn’t have time (full time bookkeeper at the local bookstore, and unofficially full time insect enthusiast), but also partly because Vaun doesn’t really have many people who he would know to invite over to his apartment. Most others do not share his warm hearted attitude toward insects, and he doesn’t judge them for it. He tries to look over the fact that other human beings smash these delicate and beautiful creatures without a second thought. He doesn’t understand.
And maybe that’s why he’s alone in his apartment most days. But it also might be his reputation for tenderly raising the things that some people fear most: spiders, cockroaches, mites and bed bugs. Some of his neighbors in the apartment moved out after they realized his hobbies. Do other people avoid him in fear?
He likes living alone, and he likes his pets. He has a good life, yet he does wish he’d meet a few other people who could appreciate the five baby mantis lives climbing around in the empty Costco pretzel jar now filled with flowers, sticks and ants. Maybe someday.