Praying and Pacing

What's that white stuff?

What’s that white stuff?

As is often the case, I am able to notice small, slight color variations on my plants. I might not notice an entire shrub fallen down, but a 1/4 inch bug on the bottom of the leaf?  It attracts me like moths to light.

Such was the case when I passed by my Bastard False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) and I saw a small white blob.  That Florida native plant is a favorite of spiders, so I just assumed it was a spider nest.

Imagine my surprise when this big ol’ praying mantid gal was there laying her eggs.  This particular species is the Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina), a regular visitor to my place.  In many areas it is unfortunate that the introduced Mantids outnumber the natives.   I’m lucky enough to have only seen native species in my beautiful wildlife garden.

Well I'll be...It's a Carolina Mantis

Well I’ll be…It’s a Carolina Mantis

I watched for a while, but it appears to be a slow process. Mantids lay their eggs and surround them with a gooey substance that hardens into egg mass known as an ootheca.  There are three main stages in the life of a mantid: egg, nymph and adult.

Would see the eggs would come out faster if she wasn't upside down.

Would seem the eggs would come out faster if she wasn’t upside down.

I was surprised to learn that they lay their eggs just prior to winter.  The egg case acts as a protection against the cold…and yes, we in Florida get cold.  Heck, there might even be three full hours of below freezing temperatures in my fair Central Florida location.

Mantid nymphs emerge in the spring and they reach adulthood in the fall, when the process starts all over again.

She looked at me, but didn't seem concerned that I was close

She looked at me, but didn’t seem concerned that I was close

Mrs. Mantid seemed unfazed by my picture taking.  She just continued about her business.  I left her alone and returned later in the day to see the resultant ootheca.  This is the third I have found this year.  One is back on some dogfennel and another was on a fence.  The cases change from the milky white to a tan-ish color, I assume to blend in with the landscape as it goes dormant brown for the winter.  Mom was nowhere to be found.  Left those future babies on their own.  So much for motherly nurturing.

By the next day the egg case has hardened and changed color

By the next day the egg case has hardened and changed color

So, I guess in spring I will be a grandma to some new mantid babies come April or so.  It’s going to be a long winter…I can’t wait and I’m already starting to pace.

© 2013, Loret T. Setters. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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Comments

  1. says

    Fascinating Loret! I cannot say that I have ever seen a native praying mantid. I will sharpen my (like yours) detail noticing focus and watch for them. Wish me luck. BTW my parents live in Homosassa which is *sorta* near you. I’d also watch for the native praying mantid when I visit there, but their community regularly sprays for mosquitoes and consequently I don’t think they have *any* insects or much else. My Mom often laments that they have no butterflies. What a tragedy. Thanks for the cool post!!

    • says

      Hi Brenda!

      My cousin’s kid lives up in Homosassa. I think it is about 2.5-3 hours from me. Sad when communities feel the need to kill the bugs, but that’s the mindset of some, not realizing they kill the very things that would keep the pest insects in control. Tell your mom to read our adventures in gardening so she can at least know that the butterflies are still provided for elsewhere.

      Keep your eyes peeled…..amazing what little things I have found with my eyes to the ground.
      Loret T. Setters recently posted..Arnold surfs the windshield

  2. Permelia Ehle says

    Rick was reading your blog and called me to look. Wow. What a wonderful series of photos. Thanks Loret for your always enlightening and informative posts. P.and Rick.

  3. Marilyn says

    Fascinating photos and story! Thanks for sharing. Your comment above about taking your head out of the clouds reminded of Yogi Berra’s sage advice: “You can observe a lot just by watching.” You have inspired me to work on being more observant.

  4. Carole says

    Lucky! So glad you shared the pictures so your readers could watch too. I’ve only found an empty egg case. Maybe you’ll get pics when they hatch.

  5. Cindy says

    I’ve yet to find a Mantis egg case..let alone see eggs being laid.. Thanks for the vusuals! Nevertheless, very year I watch tiny Mantids turn into jumbo mantids & then watch them waiting hungrily on flowers for an unsuspecting pollinator..Unfortunately mine are carpetbaggers..Europeans.. Good luck in the delivery room..Smoke a cigar for me!

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