|First Praying Mantis spotted in the Garden a couple years ago.|
It all started a couple of years ago when we first spotted a gorgeous praying mantis on our Garden sign. I was thrilled to see it taking up residence in our garden as we were having some problems with pest bugs and we are an organic garden that doesn't use chemicals of any sort.
It was a gorgeous specimen. I'm not sure if it was male or female as I'm not a bug expert. They have very unique personalities. It would seem to listen to me when I talked to it during my morning watering sessions. It would tilt its head to one side to give the impression of hearing what I was saying.
Toward the end of the summer I noticed this amorous couple. It has been well documented that the female will bite the head off the male once mating is complete. I'm glad I didn't capture that!
I kept looking to find egg cases as further evidence that the mating was successful. Either they were really hidden or the female decided to choose some other venue to host her egg cases. This year after finding THREE egg cases deposited in the Garden I realized where we had gone wrong. At the end of the summer we routinely cleaned out all of the dead plant material and put them in the compost bins. This year we didn't. The mantis had no where to lay her egg cases before and now she did.
|This is the first case to hatch this year.|
So what stressed me out as being inefficient (not cleaning the beds at the end of the season) turned out to be exactly what the mantis needed to have a safe place to deposit her egg cases. My husband meets me in the Garden on Club day and gets things set up before I bring the students out. Today I get a text "The mantis egg cases are hatching!" As the students were walking into the library to meet me for Garden Club they were met with a librarian squealing like an excited 6 year old! I couldn't help it, I just get so giddy when it comes to anything nature related. The students immediately caught my enthusiasm and starting asking "what is it? what's going on?" When I told them the mantis' were hatching they said "well, hurry up lets get out there!" Needless to say, I had to stop a group of children from running to other classrooms to gather the rest of our Club members. Every time another student walked into the library they would all say "the mantis eggs are hatching, we need to hurry up and get out there!"
|starting to emerge|
|hatching is hard work|
|sometimes siblings just get in the way|
Last week I found a YouTube video that showed an egg case hatching. The mantis seemed to swarm out of the case and the people creating the video were soon inundated with hundreds of newly hatched mantis. The children and I thought we would be witnessing the same phenomena. Not so much. Our hatch lings seemed to have a harder time coming out and only a few emerged at at time. Once out, they quickly disappeared into the oregano plant to stay safe and find food. The children were very lucky to see the few hatching they did. Every time they went back to check, there seemed to be more hopping around off the case.
|Now to find some food!|
I've read that only 1/5 of all hatch lings survive. Praying mantis are quite carnivorous and will eat siblings if a food source isn't readily available. Here's hoping they find a nice crop of aphids or other tasty pest so they don't have to eat each other! We are all looking forward to seeing many grown mantis out and about in the Garden this summer.