Praying Mantis: Intriguing Garden Companion

 

  • Praying Mantis:

    These creatures are absorbing. When I see one I am always compelled to watch it for a while. They seem to be holding their prominent front legs in an attitude of prayer, which is an activity that I often participate in while in my garden. The fact that they appear to be praying masks their true intentions however, as these little brutes are indiscriminating hunters, eating any insects that cross their path.

    I have spotted many in my garden and have even had them land on me while puttering around outside. I have turned over rocks and found their egg cases and have witnessed the tiny 1/8 inch long nymphs as they emerged. They are fascinating!

    These graceful insects have always grabbed my attention, as a kid I would catch them and hold them hostage in a jar, watch them for a while and then let them go. Now, I try and catch them with my camera.

    As I have followed them with my camera they definitely watch me, turning away as I try to get my lens close.

    Camouflaging  themselves to remain unseen is one of their successful hunting tactics. Maybe that’s why their presence always takes me by surprise!

    What has been your experience with these garden companions? Share it with us in the comments!

 Tips:

  1. If you purchase egg cases for release and don’t have the time release them right away, you can refrigerate them in a ventilated container for up to one week. Do NOT freeze.
  2. Use 3 egg cases for up to 5000 square feet. Place the egg cases three feet above the ground. You can keep them in the container you purchased them in and make slits that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long so they can get out. In this way they will be protected from birds and other predators.

Fun Fact:

The male Mantid will often fly at night and are attracted to lights. He can use his ultrasonic ear to detect the presence of bats. When the bat gets closer to it, the Praying Mantis can hear the same frequency of echolocation that the bat uses to detect prey.  As the frequency begins to increase, indicating the bat is getting closer, the Mantid will nose dive to the ground in a spiral or looping fashion, in order to protect itself.

anna-smith
About the Author

Anna Smth

Terre Verte Landscape Design began in 2003 while Master Gardener Anna Smith was the staff horticulturist for Kern Counties only botanical garden, Mourning Cloak Ranch. Read More
 

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