|Credit: Lyn Fewick Praying mantid turns to greet me!|
I was so excited to see an article in the newspaper from the K-State entomologist about Praying mantids. Those of you who follow my blog know that I am fascinated by them. The article described how to ensure a garden has a few praying mantid guardians by carefully removing a discovered egg case and putting it in a glass jar with a lid that has at least 10 small air holes. The instructions said to keep the egg case in the house with warm temperatures and wait 4-6 weeks for eggs to hatch. The instructions included the alternative of keeping the jar in the refrigerator to delay hatching and then removing it when you want it to hatch, which will take 1 or 2 months after removing it from the refrigerator.
|Credit: Lyn Fenwick Admiring his shadow|
Frankly, I have much more confidence in Mother Nature to help with the hatching than in myself getting involved. If I got something wrong, I would feel very guilty. The need to make sure the nymphs were not released to freezing temperatures, which would be fatal, convinced me that I needed to stay out of the praying mantis mothering and leave it up to nature.
Of course, if a building to which the mantid mother had attached her eggs was being torn down, or I spotted a branch or stem in the burn pile about to be set ablaze, that would be different. In such emergency rescue cases, even I might be willing to take the chance of hatching the nymphs, whose eggs case appears like a hardened piece of Styrofoam stuck on branches, walls, fences and sides of houses. Perhaps a school science class might be entrusted with the responsibility, and more specific instructions could be obtained from Kansas State Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources.
|Credit: Lyn Fenwick Discarded shell|
As for myself, I will continue to keep my eyes open for praying mantid hiding in leaf rubble, where I once spotted one, or hatching on the side of our house. I watched in amazement as it slowly escaped from the case it had outgrown. Several weeks later that year, my husband and I were sitting on the porch when a praying mantid joined us. He showed no signs of fright and lingered with us to enjoy the afternoon before finally disappearing. It didn't take too much imagination for me to believe it might have been the praying mantid I watched shedding his case earlier in the spring.
|Credit: Lyn Fenwick Escaping outgrown case|
They are beneficial in gardens, eating "anything they can grab onto with their raptorial front legs," according to K-State entomologist Raymond Cloyd. That includes flies, of which we had so many last spring and summer, and crickets, months, wasps, and caterpillars. Unfortunately, it also includes butterflies, but if they are on their toes, those butterflies can escape into the sky!
Be on the lookout for these interesting insects, which are described as "a beneficial to a home garden."