Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My pest-eating army: praying mantids hatch!

I love coming home to my garden after a week away. Especially when that week away was a sunny one and the previous three were wet. That means the tomatoes had grown up to my shoulders - and I'm not a short woman.

and the zucchini leaves were bigger than my head!

The best part though was my three praying mantid egg cases hatched sometime while I was gone. I ordered these back in early June along with 4,500 ladybugs, their job was to eat the
aphids infesting my "Monsanto sucks, Michelle Obama Rocks Organic Garden". Well, the lady bugs mostly took off after a few days, but the praying mantids are still hanging out nearly a week after being released. This is one of my little mantid soldiers a few days after hatching:

I opened the jar they hatched in, placed it under the bean plants and they crawled out on their own. I bet there were at least one hundred in there!

They can jump surprisingly far and they really do hunt in that jerky style you see on the nature shows. And, the best part is, when they see prey they turn their head very slowly and deliberately then move those little saw-like arms so fast you barely even notice until you see them devouring their prey. I shall try to catch it on video.

It will be fun seeing them grow to full size. I admit though, that when harvesting my first crop of organic green beans last night in the near-darkness I was really afraid of squishing one. I seem to have evolved an attachment to these alien-like creatures in a way that I didn't with the ladybugs. Perhaps because they've stuck around and didn't take off. Perhaps because they seem to have personality (can an insect have personality?) They accepted their marching orders and really are doing their jobs.

Next spring I'll order them a month sooner!


  1. When I think of praying mantis I can only think that it would be nice if you didn't get a picture of them mating, since the poor male doesn't survive the event. But I'd love to watch them devouring aphids or other garden pests.

    I really love your blog and am enjoying looking at past entries with delight. Thanks for sharing and helping me raise my own awareness.

  2. They are amazing little creatures, especially full size. I am not afraid of bugs like a lot of people. I find them fascinating, well unless they are eating my hostas and roses.

  3. WOW! Your garden is really blooming!
    I tend many gardens and never thought about ordering praying mantis. I have a lot to learn! Thanks for sharing this very insightful blog! Great photos!

  4. DJan: I promise not to post pictures of the mantids mating, freaks my husband out too (which it should!)
    Thanks again for following! I find your blog fabulous as well!

    Rae: That's great that you're not afraid of bugs! The only insects I truly fear are bees, I run away, very uncharacteristic of me.

    Susan: thanks for following. Welcome!I will follow your blog as well! My THIRD Canadian! YAY!

  5. Insects TOTALLY have personalities, especially mantids.

  6. Uh oh mantis, I'm afraid of 'em!


  7. Lulu, Yes! you would know about insects and their personalities I would imagine :)

    AL: I have a feeling mantids in your next of the world are much larger than in mine....


  8. Your garden is looking good. The little ones are so cute, I've never seen one that small.
    Speaking of seeing them, I haven't so far this year. If none appear maybe I will place an order next Spring.

  9. Oh, Kate, I loved this post. In Australia, as a child, I would gently play with the full size critters - such alien little heads, watching, watching.

    Just wanted to say how much I love your blog. It's such a nice thing to wake up to.

  10. SQ: I definitely suggest ordering some, they're pretty cheap, only about $3 an egg case. And it's so much fun to see them as little guys!

    Fran, Hi there! How fun would it be to grow up in Australia with crazy insects?! Thanks for your kind words and CONGRATS on the request for full manuscript of your second novel! That's truly an accomplishment! You inspire me to finally finish the Holdfast Seeker!


  11. Awesome hatch, they are magnificant little creatures. We are lucky enough to have alot of them around the house. Your garden looks fantastic! Well done. :)


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