Well as Milo intimated a month ago, our rescued Mantis has laid an egg case.
Currently the proud mother is still alive although I suspect that after laying her eggs her life span may be limited. I’ll put the egg case in a cold area for the winter and then put it outside in spring. Princess Sack of Potatoes will probably equate this phenomenon to the story of Charlotte’s Web that we recently watched. Well, I’ll have to say the project has really paid dividends.
Last night I read that this week we’re expecting a hard frost. Well, it’s November after all and nothing unusual about that. I mentioned to Camera Girl that I saw a dragonfly circling the yard the other day and now it’ll be the end of his time with the frost.
This morning Camera Girl was getting ready to go out on an errand and she said she’d stop at the top of the driveway and put a letter in the mailbox. I said I need some air. Give it to me. As I was walking back toward the house she is walking toward me instead of driving out in her car and yelling something excitedly. She is an enthusiastic woman. What she was saying was that she saw a praying mantis sitting on top of a gallon water jug that I had left on the porch. She asked me to catch it and save it indoors.
And sure enough, there it was. I scooped it up and put it in a convenient cage (the former home of one of my grandsons’ hermit crabs).
And the new plan is to see how long he can live in an indoor environment. I’ll try to offer him raw hamburger but if that fails we’ll get some crickets at the pet store. Well, Princess Sack of Potatoes will get a chance to study a praying mantis more closely than I thought.
Well, this is the finale of the great mantis experiment. Yesterday Camera Girl used her hawk-eye super vision to find an adult praying mantis in the jungle-like weeds of her vegetable garden. In fact, the mantis was on one of her Japanese eggplant plants. Princess Sack-of-Potatoes will know that praying mantises really do exist although unfortunately they do not talk in an English-accented throaty whisper as they do in an Eric Carle picture book video. But they are indeed monsters that inhabit the tiny world of our garden. And that’s a fun thing for a little child to discover.
So the first survivor has made his appearance in the yard. This one found his way into the stella d’oro daylilies in the swimming pool area. May he be the first of many that show up. My little granddaughter will find out that praying mantises don’t talk like they do in her Eric Carle books but they are very exciting for an insect.
So this summer is an experiment to see if I can stock the fields and garden with praying mantises. I’ll have to say, I haven’t seen any of the released mantids but I wanted to say a few words about my history with this insect.
My paternal grandfather was a doctor and he had a fellow physician who liked to give books as gifts to his friend’s children. And one of these gifts was a very handsome edition of Fabre’s Book of Insects to my father when he was a boy. Well, in my turn I inherited this book and I was fascinated by the author’s scientific investigation of the common insects to be found around the fields of Provence, France and charmed by the very attractive illustrations that adorned its pages. In fact I still enjoy looking through the book and seeing these pictures eighty six years after it was published. And I’ve provided copies of the book to my own grandsons to try to capture that same sense of wonder at combining nature and art in a form that a young boy can enjoy.
So I’m juxtaposing the original inspiration of my interest in the mantids with my own modest attempts to document their fascinating existence.
Well, the little buggers arrived two days ago and unharmed apparently. Some hatched out today so I held onto a few and attached the egg cases to tree and shrub branches around the perimeter of the yard.
But I’ll try to feed them by raising fruit flies and letting them feed on them. Here is my fruit fly attractant.
My two-year-old granddaughter is a big fan of the books by the children’s author Eric Carle. And one of her favorites is the Very Quiet Cricket. There is a YouTube video of an animated version of the book and one of the characters is a preying mantis that whispers in a hoarse voice a funny sounding “HELLOOOOO!” And that character is my granddaughter’s favorite part of the book. So, she is a fan of preying mantises. And by a strange coincidence so am I. I’ve always liked finding mantises wherever I have lived. And I have found them here in New England too but infrequently.
And so, for that reason I’ve decided to increase my odds of finding them this summer for my granddaughter. She said, “Pa, show me preying mantis.” She calls me Pa because that is what all my grandchildren call me. My oldest grandson made the name up when he was barely able to speak and it became official.
So I have to find her a mantis. I looked to see if any of the gardening supply stores in the area sell preying mantis egg cases. They didn’t so I just ordered some on-line and should have them soon. Camera Girl thinks it will be educational to see the baby mantises hatch out and thinks we should keep a few to raise up. The prospect of finding aphids and then larger insects to feed them sounds challenging but I’ll give it a try.
With any luck by summer we’ll have a few good sized mantises and my granddaughter will learn a little bit about an interesting insect. At least that’s the plan.