Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mantis Babies at Work

The mantis babies are doing a great job ridding my garden of pests. Even though it's been raining on and off for days, we still manage to find some out in the garden, particularly in the rose bush and butterfly garden. These two mantises have a lot of work to do to rid the rose bush of aphids and leaf hoppers, but they're trying their hardest.

This one is devouring a juicy aphid it snatched off the morning glory.

The beautiful creature below is the devil in disguise. It's a scarlet-and-green leafhopper (Graphocephala coccinea), scourge of my flowering plants. Don't be fooled by that dazzling color scheme. All this little bugger wants to do is suck the life out of your plants. Devoid of sap, my rose bushes and rhododendron leaves have turned crusty and brown.
Before becoming an adult, the scarlet-and-green (or red-banded) leafhopper is neon yellow. This one was no match for a quick baby mantis. What else is ruining my garden? Treehoppers! The species we get, Entylia carinata can be identified by the notch in their back. They look just like thorns on a twig.
Our treehoppers are enjoying a mutually beneficial partnership with a local population of ants. While the treehoppers are capable of piercing and sucking in the sugary sap of plants, the ants jaws cannot do this. But the ants want a sweet treat, too! So they hang around the treehoppers waiting for them to excrete "honeydew." To return the favor, the ants protect the treehoppers, their eggs and young from enemy insects. Everyone wins (but me - now I've got ants and plant destroying insects!).

Eat up, mantids!


  1. You bring back memories of my first teaching job in NJ. A 6th grade student brought in a cocoon of sorts. What did an English major know about biology? We left it on a shelf and one February morning, mantises were praying all over the classroom!

  2. What a great surprise! Hard to catch, I bet.