Close encounters of the insect kind
Visitors to the Meadowlands cozy up to area wildlife
by Adriana Rambay Fernández
Reporter staff writer
Sep 27, 2012 | 2855 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FACE TO FACE – On a recent visit to the Meadowlands, Billy Archer encountered a friendly praying mantis. Copyright 2012 ME Raine.
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On a recent visit to the Meadowlands, nature lovers Elaine and James M. Raine from Clifton discovered a praying mantis, milkweed bugs, a groundhog, and a number of butterflies.

The couple often walks through Secaucus and the surrounding Meadowlands, which they discovered several years ago as outdoor enthusiasts.

“Many of our friends are enthusiasts of the Meadowlands region, for it offers a great deal of fascinating wildlife to observe,” said James (Mickey) Raine in an email. “From the tiniest insects to the large impressive herons and raptors, to the abundance of plants.”

The Meadowlands area, which was once comprised of pig farms and swamps, became a dumping ground in the 1960s, leading to pollution and environmental degradation. Through regulation and conservation efforts led by activist groups and the state’s Meadowlands Commission, the area has seen a return to nature and the growth of an urban ecosystem. Area residents visit to appreciate views of nature juxtaposed with the New York City skyline.
“It continued to groom itself while occasionally stopping to pose for the camera.” – James M. Raine
“Every outing offers something new, albeit often times seemingly insignificant to uninterested parties,” said Raine. “But for the most part, the incredible characteristics and natural abilities displayed by the many animals is, in itself, quite amazing.”

On a recent weekend, they were called to a park in nearby Lyndhurst by their friend and fellow nature lover, Billy Archer of Garfield. Archer had spotted a praying mantis.

While Archer was walking through DeKorte Park with his wife and son, the mantis had jumped onto his leg out of a sweet flowering sumac tree where Elaine Raine had rescued 22 egg casings during the late spring. According to Raine, the couple had grown disappointed at not seeing the insect at future outings but said, “This one was a beauty and even a little clownish.”

“Putting our hands out in turn, the Mantis would climb upon any one of its choosing,” said Raine, who took numerous photos.

“It stayed with us for quite some time, totally at ease as it continued to groom itself while occasionally stopping to pose for the camera,” added Raine. Despite attempts to allow it back into the sweet flowering sumac tree, the mantis walked back up an arm to hang out for awhile.

“It reminded us of how it used to be as kids whenever we would find one of these beauties,” said Raine. “We never encountered defensive behavior, only total comfort . . . It all depends on how one treats them.”

Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at

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