Why do we marvel at Praying Mantis’ Egg Masses?

Mantid egg case photographed by Jeff Zablow
Who can resist? June 2014, and there in Doak field, in the field, we discover . . . a Praying Mantis (Mantis Religiosa) egg mass. Butterflies are why we’re out there, but, who can resist stopping for a moment to examine this wonder of wonders?

What is inside? Eggs. What is the outside material? A substance produced by the female, that hardens, and . . . and serves many roles, one of them is it repels birds. It discourages birds from eating the eggs within. Impressive.

When it is 0 degrees F in that field in January 2015, those eggs remain viable. Suspended on this twig, the entire egg mass never comes in contact with the snow that covers the field, again and again throughout the winter.

Spring arrives, and the eggs hatch. The tiny mantids chew their way through the outer covering of the egg mass, and grow, and grow and grow.

A native species? No. The consensus is that they originated in  southern Europe, and escaped from horticultural shipments.

What did they do from minute 1? Eat insects. That made them very warmly received, as insects were considered universally undesirable.

Finally, why don’t they vacuum up all the insects in their habitat? Insect numbers are very impressive, and these mantids eat one another aggressively, reducing their own numbers.

Has Jeff ever experienced the grip of their spiny forelegs? Yes, and it hurt. Alot. Now Jeff has respect for their formidable equipment.

Jeff

4 thoughts on “Why do we marvel at Praying Mantis’ Egg Masses?

    • This year approaching, 2015, I am planning to travel to Colorado and Arizona to revel in the butterflies west of the Mississippi. As with praying mantises, I am excited about what I will see, and won’t see. I cannot wait . . . .

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  1. Such an interesting story of the Praying mantises! You just informed me on their interesting delicate survival lifestyle. I don’t think they survive west of the Cascade men range. My grandson lives east of the cascades where he found a large mantis in the backyard. Thanks for the info.

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    • Thank you. They have amazed me for nearly my entire life. Great masters of patience, that lesson was get yourself into the right position, and patience will reward you, sooner or later. Another, sadder lesson was that exquisite as they may be, butterflies were also very much on mantises’ menus.

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