Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Praying Mantis Babies

They're here! It's been a long wait - months in the refrigerator and about 7 weeks warming in the house, but one ootheca has hatched. This ootheca (egg case) was produced by a Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinesis). We tried counting and came up with around 200 little ones. We've let most free to make their way in the world (and hopefully eat up the aphids in my garden). The rest will be released by the end of the week after they make their debut at a couple of school presentations.
A big "Thank You" to teacher Jennifer Sheerin and her wonderful students at the Maria Hastings Elementary School for inviting me to talk about insects this morning. Everyone was so interested and asked great questions. I am looking foward to seeing some of the mantis pictures they drew.

This mantis is keeper of the snapdragons in our butterfy garden.

These tiny creatures, currently about 1-1.5 cm long, will grown to be 5 inches long by the end of the summer. They will mate (hopefully), lay their foamy egg case on a shrub branch, and die when the weather turns cold. After releasing hundreds of mantises last year, we found one as an adult in September. We kept her until December when she died after producing two egg cases. Her hunting skills were mesmerizing to watch, although it was rather gory to see her consume her prey while it was still alive. In this photo, "Mandy" is resting on my son's hand.

Yum, mealworms!


  1. Hello Cecilia!

    This is SO cool! We love the praying mantis, but have only see one once, when we were visiting Texas. Now you have us thinking we might import some to guard our gardens! Do you order them from somewhere special?
    We just love your site by the way -- what fun adventures you write about!

  2. Hi there, K&R! This is the second year we've hatched mantids. They are so amazing to watch. We've bought our oothecas from at the flower show and local butterfly conservatories, but they're also available online. Have fun and thanks for reading.