Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
What can you tell me about the Praying Mantis in our area?
What you found is a Praying Mantis egg case. Every
year in the fall, Praying Mantises mate and produce one or
more egg cases, a frothy secretion that hardens to protect
their eggs from winter weather and birds. When the spring
arrives and the weather is warm for a few weeks, the eggs
will hatch up to 200 tiny mantises all at once. The young
crawl out of the egg case, dry off and disperse into the
vegetation without a trace. This whole process takes an
hour or two so it's easy to miss even if you are keeping an
eye on an egg case.
Praying Mantises are carnivores with insatiable appetites. When first hatched, the small mantis
feed on small insects such as aphids and as they grow in size, so does the size of the prey they can
overcome. They can grow up to 6 inches in length and live from spring hatch to the onset of cold
weather. Praying Mantises are on the hunt day and night and can wait for hours for a meal to come
by, but that's what they do - wait and suddenly reach out and attack. Praying Mantises are generally
good for your garden because they control pest insects. But, they are not selective and will eat
beneficial insects as well. Any insect is a meal for a Praying Mantis. If there are no other insects
available, they will eat each other!
Praying Mantises get their name because they hold their
hands together and appear to be praying. Don't be fooled
though. If an insect gets within their range, the Praying
Mantis will strike with lightening quick speed and snare
the prey with the sharp spines on its arms. They are
perfectly safe for humans because they don't sting or bite.
They are also entertaining because they are the only insect
in the world that can turn its head a full 180 degrees. So
don't be surprised if you are looking at them from behind
and they swivel their head and look right back at you!
They are wonderful additions to your garden and if you want to make sure you have some in your
garden this year, you can actually buy Praying Mantis egg cases on-line!
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.