by Toni Leland
After meeting a huge and beautiful female Praying Mantis on my deck last fall, I kept my fingers crossed that she would lay some eggs somewhere in my garden. Watch her here as she stalks the yellow-jackets in the morning glories. Positively fascinating!
Anyway, this past month I've scoured the shrubs close by, looking for the distinctive egg case (ootheca). Toward the end of summer, the female deposits hundreds of eggs in a foamy mass on a protected spot. The foam hardens and the case is fairly safe from predators - except birds - but usually, the case makes it through the winter.
|An ootheca found in the middle of an ornamental grass.|
The eggs must be kept cold, just as they are in the wild, so the instructions said to put them in the refrigerator. (I put them toward the back so no one would be freaked out!) The eggs will not hatch until the daytime temperatures reach about 70˚F, so here in New England, it will be mid-to late May before I can put the egg cases out.
|Purchased Praying Mantis egg cases|
Want to include some of these intriguing critters in your own garden? Here are a few of the many sources:
* Mantids are cannibalistic, and the young will eat each other. Survival of the fittest!